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Deryn & Steve: potatoes + garlic chives

The humble potato gets a flavour boost from garlic chives!

Here Deryn from All the Dirt gardening podcast, gives us her perfecting garden pairing recommendations: 

The soil is warm but the fierce heat of summer has faded so it’s the perfect time to plant out cool climate vegetables.

When you choose your crops think of perfect pairs, plants with complementary flavours that will team perfectly on the dinner plate.

Some of my favourites for the current season are broccoli and garlic, peas and mint and potatoes and garlic chives.

Before planting anything in the garden it is important to improve the soil.  I always like to work kaolin clay into the to 30cm of my sandy soil, along with some compost or soil improver. Heavier clay soils should also be improved with compost which improves drainage and makes the soil easier to work with.

I also work in some blood and bone and a little complete fertiliser.  I prefer fertilisers with a wide range of trace elements (these will be listed on the fertiliser container) as I want to grow food that is nutrient dense.

Peas and mint

Peas are a great crop for the cool weather in a full sun to part shade position. While normal peas are great my favourites are sugar snap peas and snow peas and I often eat them straight from the vine.  While you can buy dwarf varieties most will need a trellis to grow on as the peas climb using little tendrils. Peas are always grown from seed, not seedlings.  Follow planting directions on the seed packet.

Mint is a herb that is best grown in a pot in potting mix as it can become a pest in the garden bed. It prefers a cool moist spot.

To team the two together add a sprig of mint to the water the peas are cooking in and/or sprinkle cooked peas with finely chopped mint.

Broccoli and garlic

We usually buy broccoli as ready grown seedlings from the garden centre.  Broccoli, like all leafy greens, needs to be grown quickly, my favourite saying is that it needs a short but indulged life. So add extra blood and bone during the growing season and/or a dose of liquid fertiliser each week.  When the flower bud develops cut it when still densely packed with buds.  Small side shoots will then develop on the stem and these can also be eaten.

Garlic is planted in a full sun position in April in SWWA. Buy a bulb of local garlic and break it into individual cloves.  Each clove will develop into a full bulb.

Push each clove into the ground with the pointy end just below the surface in a full sun position and about 10-15cm apart.

They’ll start growing within a week.  Keep it watered until the rains come and in spring, when the tops yellow and fall over it’s time to harvest (leave the tops on) and hang in bunches in the shade to dry off.

Garlic is a great accompaniment to stir fried broccoli. Fry it in oil for 20 seconds before adding the broccoli flowerets.

Potatoes and Garlic Chives

Potatoes are grown from seed potatoes available from garden centres.  Cut big potatoes into pieces, each with at least one eye or sprout.

Plant in the ground in furrows, scattered with complete fertiliser, which are 15cm deep and about 75cm apart or use a grow bag purchased from a garden centre, or an old hessian bag.

Grow bags are a great solution for patios or courtyards. Fill the bag less than a quarter deep with potting mix, improved with complete fertiliser. Lay four or five potatoes on top and add a layer of potting mix so the tubers are covered.

As the potato stems appear hill up the soil around the crop so the stem is covered. Continue doing this each time the stem grows until the mix reaches the top of the bag.

Stems are also covered with the soil ‘hilled up’ over the stems of potatoes grown in the ground.

New potatoes can be dug about three to four weeks after the plants flower and the lower leaves turn yellow.  If the potatoes are to be stored let the tops die off completely before digging.

Garlic chives will grow in any reasonable soil in the garden bed or can be planted in a pot.   Purchase a small plant from the garden centre and position in a full sun to afternoon shade position.

Garlic chives produce white, scented flowers in late summer. Gather them for use as cut flowers to keep garlic chives from reseeding. Like regular chives, garlic chives can become invasive, especially if your soil is rich and moist. 

Harvest the leaves at any time of the year and cut them finely to use as a garlic-flavoured garnish. Plants are perennials, which mean that they last for many years.

Garlic chives are an attractive and flavoursome topping to boiled, baked or steamed potatoes.  Before sprinkling on the chives you may want to also add salt and a drizzle of olive oil or a tablespoon of sour cream or a big ‘dob’ of butter. 

If your mouth’s watering and imagination is running wild – head along to the Kleenheat Kitchen at the 2019 Perth Garden Festival for more flavour combinations from our guest chefs plus tips for growing top-notch produce at home.

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