Plunge In Pungent Alliums

To paraphrase an old saying: Give a person garlic and they can ward off vampires once; teach a person how to grow garlic, and they will be free of vampires for a lifetime.

Have you planted your garlic yet? I try to get mine in by Halloween, but given our unseasonably warm fall, I think Maritime Northwest gardeners could still get a crop in the ground, unless your garden is in a cold microclimate.

Spanish Roja garlic

Spanish Roja garlic. I save the biggest heads for replanting.

In my Edible Garden column for Edible Seattle’s Sept/Oct issue, I outlined many of the considerations for planting alliums, the genus that includes garlic, onions and shallots. You may still be able to find some of these alliums in nurseries, and all of them would be well worth a try.

Garlic is my favorite, because it comes in so many types and flavors, far more interesting than the typical white supermarket variety. Look for unique varieties that are spicy or sweet, with cloves striped in red or purple. Learn all about types and varieties from Filaree Garlic Farm.

See my earlier article Cloves in Bed, All is Well on the steps to planting garlic.

The onions you’d find now in the nurseries would be seedlings, small groups of grass-like starts growing in soil. Try Walla Walla Sweet, if you can get it, as they do well in our climate.

Seedlings are different from onion sets or bunches, traditionally sold in the spring. Sets are baby onion bulbs that are sold dry, and will come to life and grow after planting. Bunches are small plants that had been started the previous fall and dug from their bed before being banded together and sold by the dozen in the spring.

As we near the end of the gardening year, consider where in your garden these spicy spikes might go, see if you can find any in the nurseries or buy some from a farmers market stand, and get them in the soil as soon as possible.

Cover the soil with a loose mulch like straw to soften the winter rains, and watch for the little allium spikes to break ground early next year, signifying the start of another gardening season. I guarantee that you’ll be vampire-free.

Starting “The Edible Year”

You want to get growing now, don’t you? I know I do. So this Saturday seedpackI’ll kick things off with the first in my seven-class series at City People’s Garden Store in Seattle. I’ll discuss “Starting Your Earliest Edibles” and go into some detail on how to

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get the garden beds ready, what vegetables can be started now, and how to get them growing vigorously.

Through the spring, and again in summer and into fall, this class series will take us through the seasons in our vegetable gardens, from building soil to

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putting your produce on the holiday dinner table.

Here’s the lineup for “The Edible Year”:

  • 3/8, 11 a.m. – Starting Your Earliest Edibles
  • 3/29, 11 a.m. – Soil Building for the Vegetable Garden
  • 4/12, 11 a.m. – Season Extension for Growing Edibles
  • 4/26, 11 a.m. – Growing Great Tomatoes
  • 7/12, 10 a.m. – Start Now for Fall and Winter Edibles
  • 8/16, 10 a.m. – Saving Seeds of Your Favorite Edibles
  • 9/20, 10 a.m. – Prepping the Edible Garden for Winter

Each class is one hour, and we often end it by walking through the nursery, choosing plants and supplies. If you’ve never been to City People’s Garden Store before, it’s a gem. Situated in the Madison Valley neighborhood of central Seattle, it is comprised of a colorful, enticing store, an attached greenhouse, and an outdoor yard chock full of interesting plant choices. It fits well into its neighborhood, which has diversions such as Cafe Flora and the Washington Park Arboretum.

The workshops are free, but please e-mail or call the store at (206) 324-0737 to pre-register.

 

Holiday event Thursday 11/21 at Molbak’s

Please join me this Thursday, Nov. 21, 7-9 p.m. at Molbak’s in Woodinville for Gather, Give & Grow, a special after-hours shopping event. This excellent nursery is hosting the holiday event as a

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fundraiser for many garden-related organizations. There will be coffee and Danish kringle, raffle prizes, and much to browse as you stroll among the twinkling lights of the decorated store.

A portion of the evening’s proceeds will go to the Gather Give & Grow imageinvolved groups, which include Seattle Tilth, 21 Acres, Plant Amnesty, the Northwest Perennial Alliance, the Master Gardener program, the Arboretum Foundation and three garden clubs.

The $10 ticket cost, along with 5% of your purchases, goes to the participating organization of your choice. This would be a great time to grab some holiday gifts for the gardener on your list.

Perhaps that list includes books! I know mine does. A number of garden authors will be there signing our books from 7 to 8 p.m., and a personalized copy makes an even more thoughtful gift.

I’ll be there, along with Ciscoe Morris, Marty

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Wingate, Janit Calvo, Karen Chapman, Colin McCrate, and Lisa Taylor.

Hope to see you.

Nursery chat with Erin

My friend Erin Meier recently moved to Bellingham and got a job at another nursery — she used to be at City People’s Garden Store, and now she’s at Garden Spot Nursery, another very cool place to get plants and gardening supplies. Along with her

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other duties, she’s a blogger for their website, and we recently had a chat about Cool Season Gardener for their site.

Here’s a link to the blog post. I enjoyed the conversation — she had some great questions. Thanks Erin!

 

Beyond the Tomato Season – talk this Saturday at Molbak’s

When we talk winter gardening in the summer, people are flummoxed.

“Hey, the garden’s full! How am I supposed to fit in the fall and winter crops?”

fall pea starts

In Lorene Forkner’s garden a couple of years ago, she planted peas in this whimsical box, set amidst her summer abundance.

Fall peas

As fall turns to winter, I cover the maturing pea vines with an open hoop-house cloche to keep them flowering and producing.

Or they give that cocky summer attitude.

“Forget kale — my tomatoes are just ripening!”

Well. Our beautiful summer can’t last forever, my friend, and if the late blight comes early, don’t come crying to me.

This Saturday at the venerable Molbak’s in Woodinville, I’ll be sharing some secrets about getting the winter garden underway, as well as offering ideas about what to do with the garden space when the big guns of summer — tomatoes, peppers, squash — have gone silent.

Here’s a sneak peek:

  • Succession planting is a key. See previous posts on this site, or just think about what you want put in when the current plantings are done. Also consider how you might vary the plantings to maximize the soil fertility in the bed and minimize the pest buildup by not always planting crops from the same family in the same place.
  • Try your spring crops again. Like peas? For the next few weeks, you could sprout a new crop that will make it seem like May in September. Salad greens can get continuous plantings through fall, and root crops like beets and carrots will also thrive in our fall weather.
  • Why stop at one crop per year, when in our climate you can have two or three or…?

My talk is 10-11 a.m., and from 11 to 3 there’s a Master Gardener clinic there, so you can also bring other plant problems and questions for my colleagues to field.

The Molbak’s folks assure me that they have plenty of fall vegetable starts and seeds on hand, too, as well as a full range of season extension tools.

Come see the pretty slides of winter vegetables and dream of the kale — I mean cool — season.

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