Family Garden Kitty Photography

The Pocket Handkerchief Garden: 9 July 2015


Despite years and years and years of cooking, first with my mother, then at university and then in my own home it turns out that I don’t know what an onion looks like.  Nor garlic.

I know this, because this week I decided to do a little harvesting of my increasingly scruffy looking onion and garlic end of the veg bed.  I know that it’s onions and garlic in there because that’s what we planted, and I know that somewhere Kitty has a garden notebook that we started last autumn and that will tell us which is onion and which is garlic, but I haven’t seen that for a very long time and I rather suspect it to be in a four year old’s idea of a safe place.  And as the leaves came through and I looked at them, I think I’d rather decided that we had garlic at the top and onions in the middle, though I’m not quite sure on what basis.  I’ve taken pictures of what I thought was garlic, and read up on when to harvest it and even when the articles talked about onions foliage wilting away and garlic staying stood up, or onions pushing themselves up out of the soil and garlic staying buried I still had it in my head that one was garlic and the other onions.

Until I pulled one up.

Space for the Butterfies - The Pocket Handkerchief Garden

It was supposed to be garlic.  It was an orangy brown, round and smelt like an onion.  Ah.  Oops.  So I pulled another one. Same result.  Small investigations in the other end of the bed revealed two “onions” that were small, white and bumpy.

Well at least I’m unlikely to make that mistake ever again and now we do have our very first tiny harvest from what feels like proper food.

I know strawberries are food, but the biggest daily crop has been nine berries, so they’ve always been grown more for fun than for seriously substituting some of my supermarket shopping.  The onions and garlic on the other hand will both disappear into our suppers this week.  I walked past the nets of onions on Monday and nearly picked one up before remembering that I can just get one out of the garden.

Which leads me to this week’s question for people who know what they’re doing: Should I pull all the onions and garlic up now and let them dry out a bit somewhere or do I leave them in the ground until I need them?  I’ve got at most nine onions so it won’t take me too long to get through them, but the garlic might be a little longer unless I make a few things that have you roast whole heads of garlic, which does sound rather appealing.

Space for the Butterfies - The Pocket Handkerchief Garden

Space for the Butterfies - The Pocket Handkerchief Garden

And meanwhile the rest of the garden is flourishing.  The first batch of strawberries are all but over but from the looks of the second set we should be in for a lovely crop at the beginning of August, and we’ve had rather a lot of soft refreshing rain and one epic thunderstorm so they’re not going thirsty.Space for the Butterfies - The Pocket Handkerchief Garden

The runner beans are poking out of the netting so I shall have to do something clever to let them through, and the two surviving sweetcorn are heading for the skies too, happily both next door to each other.

Space for the Butterfies - The Pocket Handkerchief Garden

Space for the Butterfies - The Pocket Handkerchief Garden

And on the courgettes/marrow we have big yellow blooms, while around the corner my tomato plant has a smattering of small yellow flowers.

Space for the Butterfies - The Pocket Handkerchief Garden

But loveliest of all this week is the dahlia, a present from my garden fairy and just the most gorgeous dahlia ever.  It’s like a mini sunshine on a cloudy day, utterly perfect; I’m going to need a whole new bed to grow more of them next year.


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  • Mandycharlie 09/07/2015 at 9:27 am

    It looks like your onion is still growing, from the photo of the bed their stems are quite green, they could still fill out quite a bit. Your garlic looks as though it’s dried from the photo, although it’s very hard to tell. It becomes a juggling act between allowing them to grow and filling the space with the next crop or leaving them too long where they get a white mold and rot from the bottom up, mostly when they get too dry. I’d probably pull the garlic if I was sure it had finished growing and at the moment just pull the onions when I needed one, it’s a learning curve on when they have finished and they are great in salads, cheese sandwiches as they are so juicy when they are freshly picked.

    • Carie 09/07/2015 at 11:08 pm

      Well they were all pretty good in supper tonight! I’m going to pull the garlic and leave the onions – thank you 🙂

  • sally 09/07/2015 at 9:44 am

    Very exciting! Even when you’re harvesting veggies, rather than things like strawberries that just get eaten straight from the plant, I think there’s something extra special about pulling something up that’s concealed under the ground, something where you can’t see your success, or lack of it, until out it pops. I’m itching to pull some potatoes, but they clearly haven’t stopped growing yet! And the children are desperate to pull carrots even though the tops are still pretty small.

    • Carie 09/07/2015 at 11:09 pm

      I think with the garlic and onions it’s the magic of having waited so long for them – we planted them last October and it’s been months of waiting and hoping and trusting that there really was something under ground!

  • Ivona 09/07/2015 at 2:06 pm

    It looks great, I personally would leave the onion in the ground and let it grow, just use it as you go. And the garlic I would pull out and dry it. I use a lot of garlic so what I do when I buy it I peal it and pulse in food processor so it looks like it’s finely chopped, put it in little jars and store it in your fridge. This way you save your self chopping every time you need some. Just make sure you label your jars, you don’t want to use those jars for anything other than garlic.

    • Carie 09/07/2015 at 11:10 pm

      Oh that’s a good idea, thank you 🙂

  • Carlin 09/07/2015 at 8:02 pm

    Everything looks great! That dahlia is amazing.

    • Carie 09/07/2015 at 11:10 pm

      Isn’t it just!

  • Vickie 09/07/2015 at 9:10 pm

    It’s all looking great Carie! I echo everyones advice in that you should leave the onions in but pull the garlic.

    Oh and I meant to thank you for the idea of using rubber hose and canes as net support. I put it into practice today on our brassica bed at the allotment.

    • Carie 09/07/2015 at 11:14 pm

      Yay – it was Mandy’s idea really but I’m glad it was useful!

  • Kim 09/07/2015 at 11:21 pm

    Wow, look at your beautiful garden. Everything looks wonderful. Yay for garlic and onions. I echo the comments above…leave the onions, and pull the garlic. Dry the garlic, and then store until you need it.


    • Carie 10/07/2015 at 9:10 pm

      Thank you 🙂

  • Brett Ann Stanciu 13/07/2015 at 3:16 am

    I love the pocket handkerchief garden concept — what a great way to garden without a huge garden’s overwhelming chores!

    • Carie 13/07/2015 at 6:40 am

      It’s definitely a case of trying to bite off exactly what I know we can chew, and also we have a tiny garden so it’s a case of fitting in what we can!