It was February when I last posted and the focus was on preparing for the early season garlic crop. It’s now May and we have been planting our mid season garlic. This year we are growing a range of mid season and late season garlic primarily to build up our seed stock for the 2020 planting season. We have planted 3 varieties from the Silverskin group - Wilde Sally, Lokalen and Polvora. Silverskins are a soft neck garlic, that can store well for 12 months or more. The outer layers are off white or satiny white and the clove skins can be white or coloured. This is a garlic best suited for cooking. When raw, the flavours can be aggressive and harsh, but used in cooking it develops depth and holds its garlic flavour well. We are also planting Creoles - Spanish Roja and Roja De Castro; and from the Artichoke group some Australian White. We are continuing to grow Dunganski from the Standard Purple Stripe as our late season crop.
Autumn has seen the continuation of the very mild weather. We have had 7 frosty mornings in Braidwood since the start of our frost season. This is as much as 75% lower than the average number of frosts to this time of year. (Our frost season officially begins on 23rd March and ends on 22nd November.) Usually by this time of year frosts and low temperatures can be having a detrimental effect on plant growth and development, and cold soil temperatures are having a significant impact on seed germination. However with the continuing mild temperatures we are yet to see any detrimental impact. Soil temps are still relatively warm and not limiting seed germination.
While many vegetables, particularly members of the Brassica Family can cope with the light frosts we are currently experiencing, it is beneficial to provide them with some support. Seaweed products (Seasol) can be used to increase plant resistance to frost. Foliar applications take about a week to be effective and can also be helpful when plants are damaged by a frost as these fertilizers stimulate healthy new growth. Regular (weekly) applications of a seaweed liquid fertilizer during our cold months can be a beneficial routine. While the use of seaweed foliar sprays can provide some support for plants during light frosts, to maintain healthy strong plants that keep growing though our extremely cold climate and harsh frost season, yet to come, frost protection fabrics are essential. For further info on frost protection see A snugly Garden is a Growing Garden.
The use of row covers or even very simple low cost plant protection strategies enables all year vegetable production in the low temperature extremes of our cool climate region. To learn more consider enrolling in our All Season Cool/Cold Climate Vegetable Growing workshop in July.