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Dublin: 6 °C Sunday 8 December, 2019
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From the Garden: How to make the most of this super-abundant summer period

There’s plenty to do in the garden as abundant rain and improving temperatures mean everything is growing quickly, write Michael Kelly.

Michael Kelly Grower

HOW CAN IT possibly be the end of June already? It only feels like yesterday when I was prepping beds for winter and sowing the first tentative tomato seeds on a chilly Saturday in February.

With six full months behind us and the longest day of the year now in the rearview mirror, it means, rather depressingly, that nature’s grand pivot has happened again.

It’s now getting darker rather than brighter and days are getting shorter rather than longer. Christmas will be here in no time.

But there is still (for now at least) up to 17 hours of daylight per day, which is just amazing and means there’s lots of time for work on the veg patch. 

July is the real start of a super-abundant period in the veg patch. Up to now, our harvesting has been somewhat stuttering, but now it comes in waves.

The abundant rain and improving temperatures mean everything is growing
quickly now – both plants and weeds.

The copious quantities of salads and leaves (like spinach, chard, kale) are now joined by courgette, cabbage, celery, kohlrabi, beetroot, new potatoes and of course, tomatoes.

Yesterday, walking around the big tunnel, I noticed that the recent fine weather’s combination of heat and sun has brought the tomatoes along and I brought in the first small bowl of fruit into the kitchen.

But as the produce starts to pour in, don’t forget to keep sowing – it’s not too late.

A July sowing of beetroot, for example, can be harvested for storage in October, and of course, we can continue sowing salads and salad herbs right into August and even September.

toms in bowl Source: GIY

The basics -  knowing when to lift garlic

Knowing when to lift garlic can be a tricky proposition – harvest them too early and the bulbs will be too small, but harvest too late and the bulbs will begin to lose their quality.

The old rule is to sow garlic before the shortest day of the year (21 December) and harvest before the longest (21 June).

Some people also do a spring sowing which won’t be ready until late July or August.

A good general rule of thumb is to do a test when a third of the leaves on each plant are gone brown.

Carefully push back the soil around one plant and have a look at the bulb to check its size. If it’s too small, put the soil back around it.

Lift all your garlic when a half to two-thirds of the leaves are gone brown.

Recipe of the week – kohlrabi, carrot and green onion slaw

This recipe will keep in the fridge for a few days. You could do it without the mayo or yoghurt to make it vegan, but I find that just a small amount brings it all together nicely.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium kohlrabi
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 green onion
  • A handful of walnuts
  • A handful of raisins
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 2 tbs of mayonnaise or natural yoghurt

Directions

Peel and grate the kohlrabi and the carrot and put in a large bowl.

Chop the green onion and add it to the bowl with the walnuts and the raisins.

Add the juice of the lemon and the mayo and stir well to combine it all.

Season to taste. You could also add a little handful of chopped parsley.

Michael Kelly is an author, broadcaster and founder of GIY.

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About the author:

Michael Kelly  / Grower

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