Garlic Under Straw

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I got my garlic in yesterday. I’m happy when I get my garlic planted in October. Some years that doesn’t happen. I’ve planted garlic in April and still had a nice harvest, but the bulbs were smaller. One year I planted in December. I had to break through frosted ground to get the cloves in. They produced very well. But when I get them planted in October, the garlic starts sprouting over the winter and I almost always get a good harvest. I also feel that getting the garlic set in October is a measure of a good start on getting the beds ready for winter.

The top photo shows the bed ready to be planted. I use the CobraHead Long Handle to soften the soil of an already prepared bed. I use a square concrete trowel and steel tined rake to make the three peaks, and two valleys out of a regular bed. After the bed is planted, it is covered with straw to give the garlic a warm blanket to insulate it from the hard winter freeze.

I learned this method from my son Geoff who learned it from a professional gardener named Bruce Blevins. I plant the cloves on 6″ centers. The three rows of this approximately 20 x 3 foot bed hold just over one hundred cloves. I’ll pull the straw away from the soil once or twice during the winter to help keep it dryer. Unless it gets snow covered or frozen in.

In the spring I’ll start peeling back the straw as things thaw out to let the beds warm up. The slopes and valleys between and outside the garlic will be planted with greens such as spinach, lettuce and cilantro.

Martha's Gravatar I’m surprised that you put straw on your garlic before a freeze
in Northern California.
Here we put the straw on after a freeze and it only
stopped being 80-degrees two weeks ago!
Martha in Muskogee OK zone 7a
# Posted By Martha | 11/5/07 4:56 PM
Noel's Gravatar Martha, thanks for the comment. However, we aren’t in northern CA, we’re in southern WI. It hailed today, low tonight of 30 and we’ve had a few hard frosts already. Definitely cold enough to put the garlic under wraps.
# Posted By Noel | 11/5/07 5:14 PM

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