|Big Mamas ready for canning|
I’m sorry to hear about (and am mystified by) Bob Nixon’s blossom end-rot quandary since everything he’s examined and tested for is what I recommend to my friends around here they deal with blossom end rot — primarily uneven water coupled with or exacerbated by low calcium (or perhaps low calcium uptake, which is not necessarily the same as low calcium). My Big Mamas, which I intersperse with the heirloom Rainbows and Purple Cherokees, have so far been doing pretty well, though are not coming on like gangbusters as we’ve come to expect over here on the Eastern Shore about this time of year. In fact, a number of people are complaining about how slow and uneven harvests of vegetables have been. A caterer friend who normally has fantastic production came and scoured my garden for cherry tomatoes for dinner she had to do. And I’ve been plagued by a weird stripe around a love of my slicers — the Beefsteaks in particular — that shortens the shelf life considerably.
One thing we’ve had that has so far been good for us over here — despite the plethora of bugs and other critters we’ve been contending with — is hardneck garlic. (Just as every other crop in farming and gardening, some years for some things are better than others).
I had watched Theresa Mycek, the grower/manager of Colchester CSA down the road from us here on the Eastern Shore, plant hardneck garlic for several years before I tried it myself. One autumn, I bought several more heads of Music and Keith’s garlic than I thought I’d need for the winter, broke apart the bulbs and planted the cloves. They need to be spaced about 10-12 inches apart in well-drained soil. (One year I planted them on the more shady northwest side of the veg garden, and mulched them with straw as I have every year, but the shadiness and mulch kept the ground too moist and they rotted. After that, I was careful to get them plenty of sun, and to be sure the straw mulch wasn’t sodden for long stretches in winter so they could breathe.).