Saturday, 7 January 2017

New year, New Start

New year, New Start

I've got most of the seeds ordered, some have already arrived, and unlike most years I'm on top of things. The greenhouse has been sectioned off with a quarter of it being covered in bubble wrap and a heater placed under the shelving.

For once I'm hoping to bring things on earlier, making a real effort, with Leeks, some Tomatoes, Spring Onions, Broad Beans, Mizuna and Cauliflower sown. 

Greenhouse Jan 2017
Today was quite warm with the Polytunnel getting up to 10.3 deg C and within 10 minutes the heater had taken the greenhouse to about 12 deg C. I'm only having the 135 Watt heater on for the night hours so it'll be interesting what the temp is compared to the polytunnel tomorrow morning. The heating should only cost under 2p per hour (on for 14 hours) and once germinated I'll only have it on when the temperature drops below 7 deg C and hopefully that'll be enough. I'm going to read the light levels under the bubble wrap tomorrow and see if a light will be needed once they have all germinated. It's all a bit of an experiment but if I can bring things on a month or 6 weeks earlier I'm hoping I'll be able to sell plants and seedlings earlier than last year on the market. I didn't really have any plants to sell until June last year.


Friday, 30 December 2016

2016 - still moving forward

2016 - still moving forward

Each year I like to look back and compare the past to see if we are still moving in the right direction. Our lifestyle is all about living a simpler and more healthy life, less reliant on money and avoiding the rat race. 

One measure of this is the place we spend most time, the garden, our little field. Having started out with a wet, flat, and blank field, the question is are we moving toward a place that gives us plenty of fruit, veg and a nice environment to just live in. Pictures and numbers seem to show this best and since 2015 I have been recording all the food that we have grown. Since we only moved in in December 2012 we didn't manage to grow much in 2013 and the trees were all too young to produce anything. 2014 saw a lot more being grown but it wasn't until 2015 that all the beds were dug and trees started to produce anything worth weighing.

December is probably the worst month for looking at photos of the field but it is a good time to compare with what we started with.

December 2008
Click on Photos to see larger versions.













December 2015














December 2016














2015 saw us harvest nearly 500kg of food. 2016 has seen this increase to over 800kg with a lot of it being sold and although it is a lot of food it is still nowhere near enough to be anywhere near self sufficient, not that being self sufficient is a goal, but it does show just how much hard work and how much food is required for a family of 5. 

What we have learnt, for our situation at least, is being 100% organic and not using chemicals is simply not possible. Most of the potatoes, parsnips, beans were destroyed by slugs. Carrots and beetroot were destroyed by moles. The bean problem we recovered from after using slug pellets but it was too late for the others. Several hundred Kilograms of food were lost, or simply not grown. Potatoes and parsnip would have accounted for a large amount of food that could have been spread over months. We won't be suffering from slugs again, it is simply a waste of many hours work and loss of valuable food.

Sprouts, Cabbage, Broccoli and Cauliflower were also a total loss due to caterpillars. The loss of sprouts and cabbage was the worst since they are easily stored either on the plant or a freezer but this can be rectified without chemicals. Our netting failed. 

Had we avoided the big failures it would have made a huge difference in the amount of food available and this years total would have been around 1200kgs. Next years goal is to get around this total. This year we managed a 79% increase in harvested food, next year we need the same increase. This is easily possible and as the fruit trees get older I can see 1300 to 1500kg will be possible within a few years.

A bonus this year was the number of eggs we had from the 20 chickens. Enough to eat, make cakes and sell but unfortunately the chickens stopped laying somewhere around August when they started to moult. By the time they got their feathers back the number of hours daylight started to drop and they never started to lay again. Spending money feeding unproductive chickens opened up a new opportunity - meat. Slaughtering birds was a difficult job but one that we over came. By the time they were killed the meat had become tough, only good for casseroles cooked for a long time but the freezer has 8kg of chicken breast meat. This has shown that next year we can have chickens for eggs, then eat them before spending money feeding them through the autumn and winter. The chickens stopping laying also highlighted the fact that they may have become stressed with the heat of the summer, then by the mud as things got wetter. I have dozens of nut trees and more willow to plant around their pen to keep wind off, provide more shade and give them more of a woodland area. All these extra trees will hopefully keep more areas drier in the future as well as provide food for us in the form of nuts.

The field is filling up, becoming more of a garden but is still a wildlife garden. Plenty of messy untidy areas which is good for wildlife.

July 2013














July 2014














July 2015














July 2016














The summer time photos from each year certainly show the field filling up and trees growing. The Willow is particularly noticeable.

This year also saw us create our own jobs. We now have a market stall selling plants, fruit and veg and home made crafts. We also sell home made crafts that friends have made. This year was a test, we started late, in June, and didn't have much to sell but as the summer progressed and we had more crafts, jams and veg the sales went up but by the time we had a full market stall the weather had changed, summer had gone and the footfall in the market had plummeted. We have to stand there each week to keep our place on the market but also to keep regular customers coming back but there is very little money to be made when it is cold. All the earnings will need to come from late spring to late summer but next year we will start with a full stall to take better advantage of the busy period.

Living as we do, in a modern society, is a struggle, more of a fight, but we are moving forward. The struggles are for another post because society and the way it is set up is designed to stop our way of life and make every one conform and be consumers... 

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Slaughtering Chickens - not a nice subject. Don't view if squeamish!

Slaughtering Chickens - not a nice subject

You can't be self sufficient in a modern world, not without space and money, but we're well on our way to at least partly doing that. Most of of vegetables, some fruit, most of our eggs and now some of our meat.

Some jobs in the garden are enjoyable, some just plain tedious, others are hard work and some jobs just spring up from nowhere and are down right horrible. Killing chickens has just become one of those jobs.

The idea was simple enough, feed chickens, get eggs, repeat and the jobs a good one. Chickens stop laying when it's cold and dark, ours stopped laying early due to a moult and became expensive, then came winter. What do you do? Keep them for 5 months or so not laying and then carry on in the spring? The chicken area has become muddy, it's not nice, a lot of heavy chickens pacing around all day in mud and the grass goes. Just feeding them is a horrible job, drinking containers get muddy, their house gets muddy and it's impossible to get rid of 20 chickens mid winter.

Bird flu comes along, it's in the news, and even small chicken holders are expected to keep chickens indoors for 30 days at least. That just isn't possible, our chicken house is just for them to sleep in. If they all sat still happily there is enough room but with big birds constantly pecking each other trying to get out it seems cruel.

Killing 20 chickens is a lot of meat, and a lot of work. Disposal is also a problem and the amount of hours needed doesn't exist in our life just to drop everything and process in quantity like this. Plucking a bird is messy with feathers going everywhere, time consuming and these birds are tough meat. They are too old for normal chicken meat.

There is a compromise, as there always is, don't pluck them, and simply take the breast meat and freeze it.

I've done a few chickens like this over the last month but the act of killing them is hard, especially as a dead chicken carries on flapping away for a few minutes and the inexperienced person doesn't know if they have done it right. I've had a chat with a few experienced people....

You have to deal with it in a very matter of fact way, quickly and very organised.

Step 1. Feed the birds. Their heads go down and they are easy to approach and pick up.
Step 2. Pick one up, put it under the arm.
Step 3. Walk out of the pen, close the gate and walk to a killing area somewhere else in the garden.
Step 4. As you walk grab the neck of the calm bird and break it's neck by pulling and twisting. Keep the pressure on. There is no movement. Quickly and firmly with no real thought.
Step 5. In the killing / bloody area, put birds neck on a chopping block and with one blow take it's head off while holding it's feet. It should already be dead before the axe falls. Doing this demonstrates the bird is dead and now any flapping of the wings and legs is purely muscle spasms. Mentally it helps.
Step 6. Hold the bird firmly on the ground until it stops flapping. 1 or 2 minutes. 
Step 7. Walk away or get another bird and repeat. Leave them for 10 minutes and get you're head into the right place ready for the next step.
Step 8. Take the bird to a table and pluck just down the breast bone. 30 second job to expose the skin.
Step 9. Sharpe knife and cut the skin down the breast bone, pull skin away to expose the breast.
Step 10. Follow breast bone with knife and remove breast meat without damaging the organs. 2 minutes and both breasts are off.
Step 11. Bird in bin bag, then in bin.
Step 12. Take breast meat and rinse with cold water to remove any dirt or feathers.
Step 13. Put in a plastic bag and freeze.
Step 14. Clean all surfaces.

Life is real, this is where chicken meat comes, from and although this meat will be a bit tough from old birds compared to shop bought it isn't that tough and will soften up very nicely if cooked slowly in a pot or sliced up in small chucks. It's good value for money, doesn't waste all those birds and gets over a bird flu problem. Not to mention no need to feed unproductive birds. 

Dead chickens. Head removed.










Remove feathers to see and access breast.















2 birds, 4 breasts.

























I know where my meat has come from!

A lot of people like the idea of having chickens for eggs and possibly for meat but the reality of having animals as part of a life style is that you need a way of dealing with them. You have to deal with death and any problems that arise such as bird flu and you need to just get on with it quickly.

Clearly by the look of the meat I'm no expert but that's another mile stone reached and practice will make perfect. So far 5 birds done in a couple of hours for 2.3kg of chicken breasts.

The last few chickens I will remove legs and perhaps pluck a whole bird to get much more meat but that involves more skills to be learnt.

What would you do with 20 chickens no one wants in winter? Keep them as pets?

Next spring we'll get a new flock and I think repeat the process, have the eggs until they stop laying, then have the meat. At £5 a bird plus feed the eggs pay for the birds and feed and the meat then turns a profit allowing us to get the chicken area re-grassed and turned back into a nice home for the next lot. 

Buying your chicken from Tescos or KFC is all well and good but is it good meat? Were the birds looked after and were they killed by someone who cared for them? How were they treated and what chemicals were they pumped full of? Living in a town or city and getting all your food prepacked in a very expensive way really does hide the reality of real food and where it comes from. Doing everything yourself teaches you an awful lot very very quickly and I think teaches you to appreciate your food more. 

Our birds were well looked after and died calmly while having a cuddle under my arm and they will be appreciated on the table.

Anyone else interested in keeping chickens for eggs and meat and doesn't know how or what to do just ask. I'm no expert but I have been there done that.  

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Muntjac wild deer

Muntjac wild deer

We have had the odd bit of shop bought venison before, even road kill, but the other day a friend had been hunting and had 4 wild deer. Normally he sells them to butchers and restaurants but this time he couldn't fit them all in his car in one go and so one was going begging, and fairly cheap. The deer had come from one of our local woods and had been properly gutted in the woods and hung for 2 days.

£30 delivered, although I was all for trying to attach it to the push bike, but he was going my way anyway.

Muntjac
We left it hanging for another couple of days as we tried to find the time to process it.

The first job is to skin it and with the River Cottage Game On DVD to hand we set to it. It was a lot more time consuming than I remember having last done a road kill deer some years ago.  We started early afternoon as a joint effort taking turns to remove the skin until the point came when the wife and kids had to go out leaving me to finish skinning and cutting the animal into quarters.

We made plenty of mistakes, cutting into the meat, but eventually the skin, feet and head were removed.

Almost Skinned
Once in quarters, plus 2 breasts, I had a table full of meat that could now be converted into cuts and sausage meat as well as stock and casserole meat.

The bottom of the photo shows the back legs / rump. The right is the forequarter with neck and legs. The top shows the back and in the middle are the 2 breasts.

The best meat is in the rump but the tender loin and loins looked good.

Having started around 1pm the clock showed 7pm and I still hadn't finished and something became obvious, namely that to make the most of a deer you really need a sausage making machine because the breast, ribs and forequarter and very sinewy and need mincing. We also made a couple of batches of stock.

It's now all in the freezer, although the rump steaks turned out to be mini rump steaks because when boning the meant I was left with a fair few small joints of meat. All in all we ended up with about 10 freezer bags of cuts.

Next job is to locate a sausage maker and buy some pig fat to wrap the joints in before cooking.

An experience! 

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

50 Consecutive Days

50 Consecutive Days

Two months ago I embarked on a diet along with extra exercise and today marked the end of the first two months. The Psoriasis is still there, although better and still improving but so far it has been a very well worth while thing to do.

Exactly 1 Stone in weight lost. 14lb. Which is just over 1lb per week.

Perhaps the most demanding and hardest part was the idea of walking at least 6 miles per day. The first week I managed to walk 6 miles every other day but after that yesterday marked 50 consecutive days of walking those 6 miles with today continuing that to become 51 days. The idea seemed hard but the reality has been the opposite. It's been easy to fit 2 hours in, whether it is first thing in the morning, during the day or even in the dark, come rain or shine.

There has been the odd day, at 7am, or when it is raining, when I haven't wanted to go out but it's like over coming anything, it's only a few minutes of not wanting to go but once you get outside that bit has been cracked. Once in a while, when legs are aching, half a mile in, the idea of another 5.5 miles doesn't sound fun but it doesn't take much to force yourself to the 3 mile point and then there is no way of failing as you have to finish.

I was already fairly fit, but pushing yourself harder is made all the easier when your weight is coming down. Not only does it easier as you get fitter week on week but it gets much easier when you weigh less each week, since there is simply less to carry around. It's almost the same a carrying 1 bag less of sugar each week and after 2 months it's the same as not carrying 6 bags of sugar compared to the first week. That's a lot of weight less!

In just 2 months I've lost over 8% of my body weight plus put on leg muscle but reading alsorts of web sites the ideal weight for a normal person of my height is between 110 and 140lb and I started this at 171lb. I can't see myself losing 30lb to get to the top of that range because the amount of exercise I do in normal life means I've probably got more muscle than average but it's clear that there is still more to come off. Perhaps another 7lb.

At the current rate of losing weight there is still another month to go. Will it be possible to go 80 days of consecutively walking 6 miles on top of my normal exercise?

The last 2 months have seen me average 20,000 steps per day on the pedometer, and my best month in the last 2 years before that was an average of 16,000. The average for the rest of the year is between 12,000 and 14,000 steps so the last 2 months have seen a big increase.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Curing Psoriasis through Diet

Curing Psoriasis through Diet

The last couple of years I have been using a Pedometer on my phone to measure the number of steps I do each day. It takes a few changes to daily routines to make it accurate, such as always keeping the phone in a pocket and you have to set it up correctly and regularly adjust the sensitivity so it doesn't count steps when in a vehicle, but that's now become a standard habit. It counts every step whether I'm walking or gardening. The accuracy can be argued about but when you only compare it to yourself rather than anyone else, each day, it is an accurate account of all physical movement that you do. Any inaccuracy, such as mine reads between 1 and 10% low on any given check of 100 foot steps, doesn't matter because it's the same day in day out.

Last year I averaged 14,000 steps a day for the 1st six months of the year. I didn't bother to do it for the 2nd half of the year because I thought I had a good reflection of the exercise I was getting for the whole year. This year I decided to keep it going every day, through both halves of the year and I was struck by how much less I did during the summer. All the extra gardening, although a lot of effort, was a lot less physical activity compared to the cooler months when I go bush beating for local shoots and also when I go out for walks, just for the sake of it. The summer I find is too hot to walk. 

As I get older, the weight it piling on, despite being very active. My diet is truly balanced. Lots of fruit, lots of vegetables, lots of meat and lots of junk and of course a lot of processed food. That's been the problem, lots of everything. Too much of everything. No amount of physical exercise (unless you're an athlete) can burn off all those calories. Add that to age, when everything you do is just that little bit slower and bit by bit you get fat. The fatter you get the slower you get and each footstep burns less calories because you take it easier.

Something needed to be done.

2nd October 3026
Psoriasis is an Auto Immune System problem where the immune system attacks the body. In this case it shows up on the skin. Skin cells grow and die within a couple of days, maybe 3 or 4 days. The redness is inflammation and although it shows up mainly on the arms and legs clearly it also affects the  scalp, wrists, hands and finger nails. The white bits are dead skin that simply flake of leaving piles of dusty dead skin every where I sit.

I've had this condition for years now. Probably since birth, but, it only shows up when something triggers it. In my case it's stress, and it is obvious. I get stressed and 2 days later the skin is much worse. In theory de-stressing makes it better but it is such a slow process when it improves that another burst of stress always comes along before the skin heals.

The first 4 years I had this it just got worse. Doctors prescribe steroids and plenty of Aqueous Cream / Moisturiser. Loads of different creams failed to have any affect although they can ease the itching and stop the skin from cracking and bleeding but simply haven't worked. I am against taking drugs like steroids because they have side effects and if they aren't working need to be stopped.

The Internet is a wonderful source of information and allows you to read up on conditions like this and pull hundreds of different people's ideas together and learn a lot more. Several Doctors that I have seen clearly have limited knowledge about the subject. They are just General Practitioners after all. Jacks of all trades, masters of none, and because they work they can't spend a lot of time learning. Their skills often don't keep up with modern and new thinking and just like the rest of us have their opinions are set early in their career and they often become narrow minded and closed to many new ideas.

After spending a week reading about many other people's experience and thoughts about Psoriasis, as well as scientific papers, it became obvious to me that Psoriasis isn't a skin problem. It shows up on the skin but only because you can't see inside the body. It is, without doubt, a systemic problem. It effects all of the body.

Firstly, no matter who you are, it affects you mentally. When you see your problem only getting worse you can't help but regularly think about it. It itches, keeping the problem at the forefront of your mind. It hurts when you haven't applied skin cream and sometimes I can just flex my wrist and the skin splits and bleeds. You scratch at night and rip huge amounts of skin off causing more pain and blood on the sheets. Then you pay for something in the shops and you notice people dropping money into your hand from an inch or two above which often makes the money fall on the floor. Some people think you are contagious. You read in the press someone has been ejected from a swimming pool because of it, so you don't go swimming. All this causes anxiety and more stress.

A lot of people with Psoriasis also get a version of Arthritis causing painful joints, I have this. Extra pain, extra stress. Some studies have shown that Psoriasis causes heart problems because Arteries become hardened, just the thought of this causes stress.

The knee and just below
My Doctor said that diet wouldn't make a difference because I already ate all the food groups and did plenty of exercise but all my reading up on the subject suggested this was too simplistic an answer.

I changed my diet and went onto an anti-inflammatory diet. One designed for people with Arthritis. I modified this to include Vitamin D tablets and an Ibuprofen tablet each day. The diet removed most fats and oils and added in nut oil for cooking and plenty of oily fish. I also stopped eating anything from the Nightshade family (Tomatoes and Potatoes). Within 4 days I could see and feel difference. Within 2 weeks it was obvious to everyone else it was much better. Within 6 to 8 weeks it was cured. After 4 years of it just getting worse with Doctors help and steroids I had cleared it up rapidly. I then went back to my normal diet and the skin remained fine for over a year. The Doctor refused to believe it was the diet.

Of course, it came back but before it got bad I went back on to this diet and it worked again.

There is a big problem with this type of diet. It is very difficult to stick to, isn't enjoyable and includes Ibuprofen which long term can cause lots of problems. The diet misses out lots of beneficial food and isn't balanced. It isn't a long term answer and I don't like fad diets. What it did do is not only fix the problem short term but helped a lot mentally. My subconscious now knew that I had a way of stopping it. That's a lot less stress. The effects of the Psoriasis are back again. The photos above are what it is currently like. I have allowed it to progress for quite a while because I was no longer quite so concerned about it and I like all food but it has now developed to a bad enough extent that once again I am concerned.

With my weight becoming an issue, my age beginning to take it's toll and realising that all the gardening and exercise I was doing in the summer not being quite as much as I had thought, I stumbled upon a documentary film on Netflix called Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. It is basically about a fat man realising he was too fat and went on a juicing diet. Just Fruit and Vegetables juiced for 2 months. The film was quite inspiring and although I felt what he did was a tad extreme (he missed out too many things from his diet), he did coin the phrase and idea of giving your body or diet a "reboot" and removing all processed food from the diet. He also mentioned that his auto immune system skin problem had been cured.

Carrots, Grapes, Apple, Cucumber, Tomato
I decided to give this idea of a reboot a try. Just juice. The idea is to try and refocus the diet to train you to eat more fruit and veg, stop snacking, and remove as much processed food as possible. I decided to widen the idea so that I would tie in much more exercise every day and take notice of all the scientific reports that studies show what and how you should eat. After one or 2 days of constant cravings I developed bad headaches which lasted almost 2 days. The head aches were interesting. They were caused by Caffeine withdrawal which just goes to show that caffeine has a huge effect on the brain, quite what the effect is I don't know, but the effect is big. If it causes such a big effect coming off of it it must be having a big effect while you're on it.

The next effect I noticed was caused by the "fad" part of the diet. Just fruit and Vegetables isn't good enough. I know many people think being a vegetarian or Vegan is good but the effect I noticed is that I simply wasn't able to do as much exercise. At the beginning of the diet I decided that I would walk 6 miles a day on top of my normal day. I walk when ever it suits me. I didn't push myself hard, it was just a gentle walk but by the end of the week I was getting half way and I had no energy. I wasn't just tired, I know that feeling, this was very different, I had nothing left and was feeling faint.

Grape, Celery, Tomato, Spinach
I modified the diet. Added to just juice I now have a tin of fish (Tuna or Mackerel) once a week. On another day I have a slab of cheese. I also relaxed the just juice bit to include non juiced fruit and veg. When ever I feel hungry or tired I eat a raw carrot or two or pickup a banana or apple. Still the diet is 90% fruit and veg but added is oily fish and calcium from the cheese. Exercise levels, distance and speed then rocketed. The first week I average 10 to 12,000 steps a day. By the end of the 2nd week I was averaging 18,000 steps a day with it feeling easy. Already I am walking the 6 miles 20 minutes faster and thoroughly enjoying it. The walking isn't getting in the way of doing anything else. I have found an extra 2 hours in every day. That's 2 hours less sitting down.

The Psoriasis hasn't had the huge improvement I had hoped for but it has got better. It hasn't got worse, which I know it would have done, and is maybe 10 or 20% better. This may be because during the last month my ex partner of 7 years and mother to my eldest daughter died of a brain tumour causing a lot of stress and anxiety but this doesn't account for the slow speed of the improvement to the skin compared to my previous diets. The diet is helping the skin though.

It's now been almost a month of this diet. After 28.5 days of the diet I have lost 8lbs in weight, put on a lot more leg muscle (so fat loss has been a good bit more than 8lb) and have gone down 2 belt holes. I have walked a minimum of 6 miles every day, with 2 walks of over 12 miles, and the number of steps for the month is already up to 541,000 with 2 days still to go. My previous best month in the last 2 years was 483,000.

I have modified the diet again slightly and now allow myself a normal meal with the rest of the family twice a week including chicken or even pizza or pasta.

What the film, "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead" has done is to introduce a formal walk into my day, retrain me to basing my diet on fruit and veg, stopped snacking, reduced my weight, increased my fitness to a level not seen for 25 years as well as ease my Psoriasis. It has been a "reboot" as described in the film. The only thing now banned from my diet is regular processed food, although I will still allow it as a treat. The weight is still reducing and skin still improving. It has been a lifestyle change.

My next challenge is to focus more on the Psoriasis and see if I can get the huge improvement that the previous anti-inflammatory diet achieved. The first step will be to add in Vitamin D. I now think that it will be helped by the addition of something into the diet rather than the removal of something. The addition of Vitamin D might just be what's missing. If that fails maybe Ibuprofen but hopefully not. It might be also that the diet would have had the dramatic effect but for the stressful death. More time on that front is needed. It might also be the addition of a few years of age since my last attempt to cure Psoriasis and maybe I have to accept that fixing it with diet may just take 6 months now rather than 6 weeks. Maybe something else but diet and more exercise has certainly been beneficial and I now have a diet and exercise that fits in nicely with my lifestyle which I think is the key thing with a diet...it must be part of a lifestyle and not simply something you do once to lose weight.

2 years ago my blood pressure was an OK, 120 / 80 and I know it has been that for about 20 years. Now it is averaging 107 / 72 when checked every day. 2 years ago my Cholesterol was 6.0 when tested as part of my MOT, a few months ago I had it checked, after more exercise, and it went down to 5.1. I think it may be well below that now. I'll get that checked again before Christmas.

The film had a doctor explain that half an hour of exercise per day would help stop your arteries from clogging with Cholesterol and an hour per day would help reduce it. Over the last month I have averaged over 3 hours of exercise per day. I'm rather hoping this will help rectify the horrible diet and lack of exercise that the whole of my 20's saw. My 30's were better but not good and it took me until my 40's to have a good lifestyle.

As I approach 50, I'm rather hoping all this exercise and diet will keep me in good health because seeing someone die well well before their time certainly brings home that early death and poor health is not an option I wish to take.  

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Elephant Garlic

Elephant Garlic

I thought that I would try Elephant Garlic this year. I found a farm on Ebay that sells "rounds" or Garlic. These are huge bulbs, or single cloves, that haven't split into individual cloves.

Elephant Garlic "Rounds"
They need to be planted before Christmas but anytime from October onward, ie now. In the photo there is one normal garlic on the right which, before it dried out, was what I thought of as a large garlic. The 10 rounds weighed 1kg! 

I'm going to plant a couple in the poly-tunnel and the rest outside so I can compare what would be the best place for them should I grow them in future years.

Being bigger, milder, they should be better for roasting and a lot less hassle peeling loads of small normal cloves.

I have also just read that they aren't a true garlic but a stem leek and having never tried them before I'll be very interested in how they taste. We eat a lot of garlic plus I think these may sell well on the market stall, since they are different and I haven't seen them for sale in local super markets.