How to plant an insectary, harvest potatoes and store garlic
Planting a beneficial insectary
- Choose flowers that have a lot of pollen and nectar. Good examples are zinnias, marigolds, cosmos, cornflower, alyssum, borage, anise hyssop, Queen Anne’s lace, phacelia and marguerite daisies.
- These attract the beneficial insects to the garden, insects like hoverflies, parasitic wasps, lacewings, blue ladybirds and ground beetles.
- Make sure you have flowering plants in your garden all year round. Check here for more suggestions. The annuals will need changing out every season.
Harvesting early potatoes
- Early potatoes that are ready for harvest now are not storage potatoes, so it’s best to keep them in the ground until you’re ready to eat them. They’ll last in the ground for 2-3 months.
- Examples of early potatoes are Rocket, Swift, Cliff’s Kidney and Jersey Benne.
- Use a fork or your hands to dig potatoes up – a spade might cut through them.
- Firstly pull the plants out. You’ll find some of the potatoes come out with the plant. Then reach deeply into the soil with your hands or a fork for the rest.
- Make sure you throw out the mother potato. It’s identifiable by the skin which will be shrivelled up and darker in colour.
- As soon as your potatoes are dug up get them out of the full sunlight. If left in sunlight potato skins go green which can indicate they’re toxic.
- Solanine is a glycoalkaloid poison and occurs naturally in many species of the genus Solanum, including the potato, tomato and eggplant. When potato tubers are exposed to light, they turn green which is a natural defence to help prevent the uncovered tuber from being eaten. The green colour is from chlorophyll, and is itself harmless. However, it’s an indication that increased levels of solanine may be present. Some sources say you can peel away the green discolouration and that boiling reduces the amount of solanine. Other sources say you should never eat potatoes that are green below the skin.
- When we harvested our garlic back in mid-December, we let it lie on the ground for 2-3 days, then brought it inside and hung it up in bunches for 4-6 weeks. Now it’s ready to be stored.
- Using a pair of scissors, trim the roots and cut off the stalks to within around 5-8 cms from the bulb.
- Place in a single layer in a container that has holes and store out of the light. The garlic bulbs will last like this for 5-6 months. After that they’ll start sprouting.
- Make sure you compost the dried stalks you’ve removed – they’re a great source of carbon.
Preserving garlic to use once your fresh garlic is finished
- This is a freezing method.
- Blanch the cloves before peeling. Blanching makes the skins more flexible and easier to remove.
- To blanch: Bring a large pot of water to the boil. While the water is heating, separate the garlic into individual cloves. Add the garlic to the pot and boil for approximately 10 seconds. After 10 seconds, remove the garlic from the water and place the cloves in a large bowl running cold water over them until they’re cool to the touch, approximately 3 to 5 minutes.
- Once the cloves have cooled, cut the small root from the bottom of each and remove the skin and membrane. Mince the garlic, either by hand or with a food processor. The mince can be as fine or as coarse as you like.
- Place the minced garlic into a bowl. Add a small amount of olive oil, and stir to combine. Continue adding small amounts of oil until all the garlic is shiny and lightly coated. Spoon the oiled garlic into the individual pockets of the ice cube tray, filling each to the top. Press firmly down on each filled cube with the back of the spoon to compress the garlic, pushing out any bubbles of air. Top up the amount as necessary until each cube is packed full with garlic.
- Place the trays into the freezer and leave overnight, until the garlic cubes are firm. Because of the oil, they may not become completely solid. Defrost at room temperature for a few minutes, then pop the garlic cubes from the tray into one plastic bag or airtight container before storing in the freezer. .
- Garlic preserved like this will taste fresh for up to one year from freezing, which is plenty of time until the next harvest!
Camera: Jarod Murray
Editor: Thomas Asche
Production equipment and post-production services provided by The Black Forest Breathes