IHAVE managed to time the harvest of the garlic and shallots to coincide with the only downpour we have had in the past month.
No sooner had I lifted the bulbs from the ground than I was searching for a plastic cloche to protect them from the rain.
Garlic and shallots need a good dose of sunshine to ripen them off ready for storage.
I have been told the best way is to leave them on the surface of parched soil during long days of sunshine.
But it has been years since I have been able to do this.
Wet summers have meant indoor drying sessions which just aren't the same.
I think Mediterranean crops deserve to end their days baking in heat. That's how I want it to be.
I started lifting the crop when the heat waned on Sunday, must have been about 3pm or 4pm.
The foliage has been dying back for weeks and I knew that even though the bulbs were small there was nothing to be gained from leaving them in the ground.
So I took a hand fork to the crop, gently lifting the 'elephant' garlic (pictured) first.
This variety is not a true garlic but part of the leek family.
Its vigour has shone through, producing some lovely robust bulbs.
The ordinary garlic in comparison has been better than in recent years but still a little disappointing.
The long cold winter has meant good clove division but the outer layer which you want to be beautifully taut is instead in tatters leaving the inner exposed and at least one bulb rotting in the centre.
Given my tiny plot, I may give up on the real thing next year and plump for the elephant instead.
It is milder in flavour so not ideal for cooking.
But given how cheap garlic is, perhaps I can keep this crop as a delicacy only — rubbed on brushetta or thinly sliced in salads.
The shallots have fared really well though. Planted shallow, they have divided well and have almost harvested themselves, splayed as they are on the ground.
There are some which are fatter than others and some which are annoyingly small.
I think neglect may play a part here.
I should have incorporated some manure into the mix before I planted them at the beginning of spring.
I think I should have watered more too.
But I hate watering the garden, particularly with mains water, which I have had to resort to of late.
The idea of turning on a tap to imitate rain seems entirely counter-intuitive for sustainable gardening.