Slow painting

Monday, 20 September 2010

Drowning in onions - and comfrey




While the potatoes may be a write-off, we have almost more onions than we can store. A couple of weekends ago I set up an onion processing station in the sunny corner of the plot, shucking off the loosest outside skins and the excess stalk, and dividing the crop into immediate use and storage. I haven't got as far as the shallots yet, which are also plentiful. Thank goodness some things have just got on with it this year while we've been busy elsewhere. Some crops seem to know when they don't have your full attention, but not onions.

Garlic, however, is obviously one of the prima donnas of the allotment world. Or perhaps I didn't plant it deeply enough? Or the French variety I chose didn't like our coldest winter for however many years it was.


The bulbs hardly formed, or rotted away into nothing. It can't be that they didn't have a long enough period of cold weather for bulb formation. Since garlic adapts quickly to local conditions, I'm going to plant a Scottish-bred variety this year, plant 'em deep, and see what happens.

And the green leaves to the left of the onions below?


It's the return of the dreaded comfrey, which I thought we'd got rid of but has suddenly popped up all over the place. This little lot is in its way to the compost, and shortly, just as soon as we have a moment, it's going to be Operation Seek and Destroy. The biggest mistake I've made on the plot was to believe the description of Bocking 14 comfrey in the Organic Gardening Catalogue as 'non-invasive'. Hah! It had designs on my strawberry bed from the start, and has marched straight across the width of a neighbouring bed and now into the grass path. If humanity disappeared tomorrow (I've just finished reading 'The World Without Us', a recent birthday present which satisfied my post-apocalyptic leanings) the Earth wouldn't be taken over by some tree with waxy pods imported to the US from China and currently blotting out native species, but by my comfrey.

16 comments:

Jo said...

Your onions look fab. Mine went in very late this year, but though they're small they're still fine. I'm glad I put them in late rather than not at all.

Croila said...

That's such a shame about the garlic ... I've never grown it before but I'm about to order some for planting in October. I read the variety "music" does well in Scotland, so I'll give that a bash I think. And I've got some "troy" onions ready to go too as "Which" said they did well in their central belt testing site.

That's a lovely photo of the deckchair and onions! :-)

Jacqui said...

Wonderful onions. We had small ones, but we did let the bed get a bit overrun with weeds, since we were away a lot. We did fantastically well with music - the variety sold by the really garlicky company. i could not recommend them highly enough. We will see how they grow in the peat banks next year.
i am trying eschalote grise up in lewis this year. i am just waiting on delivery and i will hopefully plant it in October.
We have rather a lot of bocking as well - and borage. xx

Kris said...

Your garlic looks like mine. The tops were lovely but the bottoms got no larger than a ping pong ball (teeny for elephant garlic) - no clove development at all. Still the flavor is fine for cooking....

Thanks for the tip about comfrey...I was considering it. LOL

Esther Montgomery said...

I used to live near Bocking.

I think Comfrey is the only thing it's known for!

Esther

Tash said...

Oh no, the visions of invading comfrey!
I look at the onions and see a lot of yummy French onion soups. Never knew garlic was so finicky.

Why I garden... said...

Your onions are fab; mine were tiny (almost like shallots). Shame about your garlic and potatoes - the ups and downs of gardening huh!?!

Peggy said...

Onions ,onions everywhere, it could be along winter so you cannot have enough!I did not know comfrey could be so invasive I do remember reading somewhere to put it in an out of the way corenr though.

Carla said...

I hope to have a veggie garden of my own one day so great to have found your blog with all your tips and trials. Carla

Pat said...

Your onions are magnificent. I'm sorry to hear of the blight on your garlic and potatoes and of the too-healthy comfrey. I'd call comfrey a thug plant. Good look in your battle against the comfrey. You asked about mildew on my zucchini plants--I haven't had any on them this year, but I do have it on my yellow squash plants. They've provided plenty of big, healthy yellow squashes, but alos the odd hard, dark yellow ones with some hollow spaces inside of them.

Pat said...

I think we don't have too much trouble with mildew on squash, melon or cucumber leaves is that here in most of California, it virtually never rains, from June through September.

Luzia said...

Your onions looking delicious. At this time in Germany you can enjoy drinking "Neuer Wein" and eating "Zwiebelkuchen". It tastes very good and I love it. Wish you a nice new week and send hugs from Luzia.

Iowa Gardening Woman said...

Your onions look great, too bad about the potatoes, I just harvested the last of ours yesterday.

I noticed an Earth Machine in one of your photos, we just bought our first one yesterday.

Sandra said...

thanks for stoppoing by my blog. these photos remind me of my dad and his gardens. mother canned almost every thing we ate. we kept potatoes and onions in the basement. the onions hung in bunches up off the floor the potatoes were in a bin. all of your photos are beautiful

Oakland Daily Photo said...

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I've enjoyed going through your blog. It makes me want to blog about my meager garden efforts. I can relate to the enjoyment and frustrations. We have only a small plot about 8x10 feet. This year the summer has been cold so the tomatoes are still slow to ripen. Bush beans have been great. As are most herbs we try. The melons were attacked by some critter. Lettuce and radishes are always too bitter to be worth while. This winter I'm trying leeks. Even though we are in a decidedly urban area, we like digging in the earth as do most of our neighbors.

Corner Gardener Sue said...

One thing I do with onions, is chop them, and put them in a layer on a cookie sheet to freeze. After an hour or more, I put them into a freezer bag. You don't have to thaw them out before using them for cooking.

Some years are better than others for our garlic, a hardneck type that was started before we moved here.

As for the comfrey, I moved mine to a different spot this year, and did not get all of it. I've been pulling it out all summer, and since I haven't been out much lately, I'm certain there is more to be pulled. At least it's really good for the compost.