Over the last three years our sales have dwindled. There have been many plants which haven’t sold leaving me feeling bewildered and uncertain about the future. Watering the same pots day in day out in the summer is demoralising. Normally at this time of year I would be growing and potting plants for the coming season but my level of enthusiasm was more or less zilch and there seemed little point in continuing to grow plants which may not sell.
I might be getting on in years but I’m not ready to give up and retire. Gardening and producing plants is in my blood and I have no wish to stop doing what is important to me. Luckily my lovely daughter came up with an idea at Christmas which caught my imagination and I’m putting it into action. She asked if I’d ever heard of black garlic? Huh? Since then I’ve ordered some online and sampled it and decided its the thing to go for. I offered some to a number of friends (not one of them has tried it before) and the feedback is very positive. It is slowly (over a number of weeks at a low temperature) cooked. We are trying to work out the best way to achieve this. The first batch dried out but now we have a thermostat so that should help.
The garlic as you know it changes dramatically. It becomes gooey, caramelised and sweet. It can be eaten as a snack without lingering odours on ones breath. It is apparently much sought after. The two prepared bulbs I bought were quite expensive and are not always easily available.
My next step was to order some garlic bulbs to plant. Initially I ordered 7 kilos. Two days later I increased the order to 20 kilos. Topsoil was delivered. So in the last week or so and with some help from Tom we have filled half the sale beds with topsoil and planted all the garlic. We’ve put netting over to stop George using the area for a convenient cat litter tray and to stop the rabbits digging them up. There are 5 or 6 different varieties of garlic. Approximately half are hard neck (so we get the ‘scapes’) and the rest are soft neck. Inevitably there will be weed seeds in the soil but it should be easier to weed than our heavy clay soil.
So, for customers coming this year to buy plants there will be a much reduced selection but there will be a happier nursery owner. Watch this space!