You may remember that about seven our eight months ago now I planted some red sun and golden gourmet shallots, Casablanca garlic and Sturon onions into the ground.
Soon after planting the red sun, gourmet garlic into the ground I had a terrible problem with birds and squirrels pulling out the bulbs. As a result the bulbs were very difficult to establish, but once they had taken root they soon started to grow.
By the time I planted the onions, I came across a neat trick to deter the birds from picking out the bulbs, however I’m little bit disappointed with this years result, they’re not very big and they’ve failed to swell. I suspect that I may have planted them at the wrong time of year and this has caused a stunt in growth. Lesson learned.
But now the time has come to pull them out of the ground. You can harvest your garlic bulbs, shallots and onions once the tops of the bulb have fallen over and started to brown. If you can, pick your onions in the morning when the temperature is lower.
If you plan on storing your onions for long period of time, then drying them out is essential. It’s really easy to dry out onions, you just lay them out on a dry surface and place that has good ventilation, like a shed, or in a porch or windowsill.
It’s great going into the shed after the onions have dried out, the place is filled with that sweet onion aroma only drying onions can produce.
Onions can take a few weeks to dry out and the outer layer will become brown and crisp. After that you would want to store the bulbs in a wire cage, nylon bag or hessian sack to reduce the risk of condensation forming.
If where you plan to store your onions is too damp, then you’ll find that some of your bulbs will begin to rot.
Garlic Casablanca is probably the variety you’re going to see on the shelves at your local garden centre. Garlic is a great staple to keep in the fridge. Whether you buy garlic in the shops or grow it yourself, garlic seems to last forever.
Much like the shallots, I’ve chosen a spot that has not been used to plant onions or leeks before and hasn’t been manured for at least two years. I thought this was a great opportunity to demonstrate inter-cropping by planting the garlic Casablanca bulbs in between the two shallot varieties I planted earlier.
Inter-cropping is a great thing to do if you can do it. It makes use of the ground more efficiently and you keep down the mite and pest population among you garlic Casablanca plot.
Garlic Casablanca origins
The word Casablanca drums up images of warm sandy beaches and glorious Moroccan sunshine – but garlic Casablanca is a hardneck variety that originates from Eastern Europe and is meant to be quite resilient in cold conditions – making it perfect for the UK. I’ve done a search online to see if I could find more information on garlic Casablanca – with little avail!
Following the instructions on the packet I buried the garlic 2cm into the ground but unlike the shallots, I was sure to bury the tops of the garlic Casablanca with soil. The rows of three bulbs were placed 25cm apart.
This variety is said to give off a lovely strong flavour and is able to store well for long periods. We tend to use garlic in everything these days and a lot of people I know say that they can’t stand the stuff – the truth is, fresh garlic when used properly doesn’t taste of garlic that much, its the fake powdered garlic that can inflict a strong taste and subsequent bad breath.