March is one of the busiest times in the gardening year. And the most rewarding. The weather makes it a pleasant experience to be scratching about, the plants reward you in quick time – given a feed of compost or wormjuice and a water – because the soil is warm and most of the bugs and lurgies still at bay. Harvests still to be proud about, new seedlings to nurture and not too much weeding, hopefully. See the March Notes to find out when and what works in the garden this month.
March is garlic planting time for the community garden. Thanks to Ananda organics (via Penny Woodward) we’ve sourced a fresh supply of seed and they look and smell first rate. Rob and Liz from Naracoorte in SA have supplied us with two hardneck (Creole) types – Rose and Purple – as well as a White softneck. Simon Bryant of The Cook & The Chef (ABC TV) fame has lauded Rob and Liz’s garlic as the best tasting Australian garlic he has tried! Interested to see how ours grows and tastes.
Rob and Liz say that like most other growers they know and follow (and us) they did have some issues with storage and lost some bulbs in the ground, so this year they are going to try Penny’s 1 teaspoon of Bicarb of soda per 1 litre water as a pre treatment of cloves before planting. We might give it a go too. Hopefully our lovely green manure and clean ground will also help give the garlic a good basis for growth, with some luck and lower humidity.
On the topic of crops, Julia has been nurturing another sort – tomatillos. Here’s what she says:
Last November we (NCG) were given some tomatillo plants by a person who stopped by our stall at Newstead market. They were planted in a community plot but one was demolished by snails within 24 hours. The other plant has grown well, but I was concerned it is not setting fruit and may need companions. I have today planted some more tomatillo seedlings but as they are small and the weather is hot they may need some tender care until they get established.
I have attached a photo which shows (1) the plot, (2) the existing flourishing plant, (3) the new baby tomatillo in protective sleeve and (4) all four new plants with “sunhats” of straw – to reduce the effects of the midday sun. If you can help to ensure these little guys survive and flower we should soon have tomatillos for all. The tomatillo (Physalis philadelphica), known as the Husk Tomato or Mexican Husk Tomato, is a plant of the nightshade family, related to the cape gooseberry, bearing small, spherical and green or green-purple fruit of the same name. Tomatillos originated in Mexico and are a staple of Mexican cuisine.
Keep an eye on them and see you in the garden in March, and especially at our Garden Gathering on March 7 (10am start, bring something to share to eat) to plan and set sail for the gardening year ahead…