Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I should probably keep better records

I have no idea how much garlic I actually planted in the fall of 2010. I bought a pound to plant (from Seed Savers Exchange), but I'm pretty sure it didn't all go in the ground. And how many heads are in a pound, anyway? I don't remember. Some of the cloves were too little to plant, and I might have needed some for the kitchen. At any rate, I know I ended up with one very full braid come harvest time.

Here's what's left – one lonely end-of-the-
string head hanging in the kitchen.
Looks like about 18 heads. This
photo was taken July 3, 2011.
I use a bit of garlic nearly every day, so my hope is that I planted enough last fall to get us through to the next harvest. I'm certainly going to come up short this year, with just that one remaining head.

There are more than 40 plants forming heads out in the garden now. That should give me plenty to eat, plenty to plant and even some to share.

Garlic is one of the easiest foods to grow. Here in Zone 6b (southern West Virginia), it's planted in the fall. And since the garden is done producing in October (well, mine is, anyway), there's plenty of room to prepare a spot. I mix compost into the bed, "draw" my rows with the end of a hoe, throw the cloves down six to eight inches apart and a couple inches deep and cover with soil. Water well to settle the soil, and then spread a thick cover of straw over the whole bed.

The magic happens over the winter and you don't have to do another thing. No weeding or feeding or pruning. Mother Nature is happy to take over your gardening chores when you grow garlic.

And, of course, once you pull your garlic harvest, you have a great spot to plant a fall crop of snow peas or sugar snaps, and you can till the pea plants back into the bed to add more nutrients over the winter. Or you can plant a cover crop – rye, oats, clover or another "green manure" – that will nourish the soil once it's turned under and allowed to rot. You'll plant your next garlic crop in a new spot that has been amended.

How did I learn all this? Thank you, Farmer Google. Since the falling-out I had last year with my former garden mentors, I've relied on internet searches to answer nearly all of my gardening questions. I have a couple good reference books, but the ease of searching and the wealth of available information meets my needs just fine, thankyouverymuch.

I find a lot of technology-bashing going on (and it starts here at home, as my husband is a Luddite when it comes to computers), but I couldn't be more grateful for the internet and its associated devices. Maybe sometime I'll feel the need to take a technology break, but for now? I don't think so.


Winnie said...

About 10 years ago I tried to grow garlic. I have tomatoes, peas, beans, so I thought why not. I loved watching it grow and I was anticipating it. When I harvested it, each one was only like 2 or three cloves? I don't know what I did...I just remember being sad. I tried potatoes once as I live on Long Island and when I dug them, they were soooo tiny. My late hubby and I ate them all in one sitting. I am back to herbs now. Thanks for showing me it can be done. Maybe some day I will try again. I will always remember my laughter with my hubby over these failed attempts, so that was worth it.

gingerzingi said...

I'm going to try this, because I love garlic. OK, if I plant it this fall, when will it be ready to harvest?

Debbi said...

I harvested the garlic in late June or early July last year. Probably early July since the picture of the braid was taken July 3. You make the braid when the tops are still flexible enough to manipulate. I'll try to find a link to how to make the braid and post it tomorrow.