I like to get the garlic in the ground in January - I don't do autumn sowings as the soil is too cold and wet here. This year I ordered 6 bulbs, having run out of garlic due to Other Half's compulsion to use garlic in everything he cooks. He points out that Jamie Oliver uses lots of garlic too - boy, that man has a lot to answer for! I reply that I've calculated he uses £3-4 worth of olive oil and garlic in everything he makes, but he can afford to. For those of us who are not rich TV chefs, we have to make do with a little less. Anyway, having given up onions this year I dedicated the space to increasing the garlic crop. Six bulbs translated into 115 cloves, which, if they all grow, should give us enough garlic to see us through to summer 2012 when the early Spanish garlic arrives in the shops.
The garlic I planted (you can just see some of the cloves in their holes in the photo) is Picardy Wight, which by the name probably has some connection with the Isle of Wight, a major garlic growing area in the UK.
So on to the first disaster of the year. Last year I lost some of the purple sprouting broccoli plants due to the weather. This winter I carefully brushed snow off the plants in an attempt to prevent the same thing happening again. Clearly this tactic didn't work - it seems that the freeze damaged the plants, the wet weather that followed introduced bacteria and rot set in.
Here's one of the dead plants (I think), showing the extent of the collapse. I trimmed the damaged leaves off the plants and will leave them for the rest of the week before removing the plants which are definitely dead - some of them look bad but are showing signs of life so I'll wait a few more days. I reckon that I've lost about half the crop, but we're due to have a dry spell now so some of them should perk up a bit, based on my experience last year.
To finish on a more upbeat note, here's my first harvest of this year - leeks and jerusalem artichokes. The leeks are late winter ones as I like to have something to look forward to after Christmas, they're still growing so will get bigger now as the days get longer.
It's nice to get the first plants in the ground and make a start on the new season. Hope you are doing the same, wherever you are.