Posts Tagged ‘garlic’

Black Friday Garlic

Friday, November 24th, 2017
Ridged Garlic Bed

Ridged Garlic Bed

I try to plant garlic by the end of October.  This year it didn’t happen.  Having great faith in climate change, I knew I would get another opportunity or several before the ground froze too hard to work easily. Today the high temperature peaked at around 66 F and it was a quite pleasant day for planting, a very good way to spend Black Friday.

I plant garlic in ridges, three per bed.  I work up the soil in a bed until it is soft. The ideal tool for this is an antique five-tined cultivating hoe. I rake up the soil into three relatively equal ridges.  A steel rake is good for this. I tamp everything down with the rake after I have my ridges shaped as I want them.

Garlic Cloves

Garlic Cloves

This year I was fortunate to meet Greg and Cathy Kosmeder. They own Copper Kettle Farm in Colgate, Wisconsin and are small-scale organic garlic growers. The Kosmeders were vendors at the Wisconsin State Master Gardener Conference as were Judy and I. I came away from the Conference with two varieties of garlic which I added to our home-grown crop of no longer known origin. I seeded the center ridge with Extra Hardy German and Georgia Crystal from the Kosmeder’s farm, and seeded the outer ridges with our home-grown seeds.

Planting Garlic

Planting Garlic

I like to use six-inch spacing for these large cloves. I lay the cloves out on top of the ridges at their six-inch intervals, then come back and insert the closes into the soil, just covering the top of the bulb.  The Original CobraHead works very well as an assist for this. I could just push the cloves into the soil, but by pushing the CobraHead blade into the soil and shoving the clove down alongside the blade it makes the process cleaner, and easier.

Garlic Bed Covered in Straw

Garlic Bed Covered in Straw

A thick covering of straw ensures the garlic will survive the hardest freezes and will be sprouting very early next spring.

Garlic Flags in the Straw

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016
Garlic in the Straw

Garlic in the Straw

It looks as though about all of the 100 plus cloves I planted last October have sprouted and are showing their flags through the protective straw.

Garlic Flags

Garlic Flags

Garlic flags are a sure sign of spring. I‘m impressed by the strength of the leaves that push up through the wet and still icy straw blanket.

Garlic Planting in Open Raised Beds

Saturday, October 31st, 2015
Garlic

Garlic

Our target for planting garlic is the end of October. We hit it this year and I’m always happier when the cloves are set for their winter sprouting. Yesterday, I planted 76 saved seeds and added 38 new seeds, Lorz Italian, a softneck variety we purchased last week from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, our neighbors across the aisle at the Mother Earth News Fair in Topeka.

Open Raised Bed

Open Raised Bed

I had a bed nearly ready to go. Potatoes had been harvested from it, earlier.  It was clean and shaped.  Neither garlic nor any other onions had been planted there for a long time.

Tools for Making Ridges

Tools for Making Ridges

I used these tools to make three tall ridges in the bed. I softened the soil with my old five-tined cultivating hoe. I made deep troughs and tamped the soil with an old square hoe, which I’m guessing was originally sold as a cement hoe. And I used a steel rake to make everything smooth.

Bed Ridged for Garlic Planting

Bed Ridged for Garlic Planting

After I ridged up the bed, I planted the garlic. It likes to grow up high on the top of the ridge and I can use the rest of the bed, the slopes and the trough bottoms, to plant lettuces and other greens in the spring.

Garlic Seed Covered with Straw

Garlic Seed Covered with Straw

The garlic was planted along the ridges, six inches apart. I put the softneck seed in the middle row. After the cloves were planted I covered the bed using two small straw bales, fluffed up to be as loose as possible.

We can report excellent results with this method. Every year we supply ourselves with a lot of garlic. The softneck variety are supposed to be better keepers than the hardnecks which we’ve grown for many years, so we’ll see if we can develop a good Wisconsin strain from our southern bred seed.

Garlic Planting in Fall in Wisconsin

Monday, November 3rd, 2014
Ridged Bed for Garlic Planting

Ridged Bed for Garlic Planting

I try to plant garlic in late October. This year we were a day late and the garlic went into the ground on the first of November. I had previously prepared the bed so all I had to do was soften the soil a little and with a steel rake make three relatively equal ridges running the length of the beds. The garlic was shoved into the top of the ridges until it was just covered. I also scattered a lot of lettuce seeds, salads greens and cilantro along all the slopes and valleys. These will sprout in the spring and fill the bed with greens. Essentially, I’ll get two crops out of one bed.

Garlic Bed Paths Mulched with Leaves

Garlic Bed Paths Mulched with Leaves

After I had the bed planted, I raked in a tarp full of leaves and mulched all the paths around the bed.

Straw Protects the Garlic Through the Winter

Straw Protects the Garlic Through the Winter

I finished the job by scattering a small square bale of straw over the ridges. The straw will protect the garlic from hard freezes.  When all goes well, the garlic will be poking its leaves up as the snow melts. And as I rake back the straw and leaves, we’ll start getting lettuces and greens for early spring salads.

I’ve been using this method for quite a few years. It works very well. Here are earlier references: Garlic 2010    Interplanting Garlic with Greens

 

 

Interplanting Garlic with Greens

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

Here are two videos about garlic and inter-planting garlic with salad greens.

garlic and cilantro

I plant garlic here in southern Wisconsin in late October.  I plant the cloves along the top of ridges of a raised bed that has been shaped into three ridges (or two troughs).  After I plant the garlic I mulch it deeply with straw.

I plant the garlic on the tops of ridges in my dense clay soil because garlic likes to be well drained. I’m minimizing the chance of the garlic getting water-logged then frozen as it goes through our often very cold winters under its insulating straw blanket.

In spring, I pull back the straw and inter-plant salad greens of all types along the edges of the ridges and in the troughs.  The greens are somewhat protected from the sun by the garlic flags.  The inter-planting gets me two crops out of the bed at the same time.

The first video shows how I use both CobraHead tools to help me remove the matted down straw.  The second video explains the inter-planting process.

Garlic Growing Redux

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

I took advantage of a dry day between the rains to get my garlic planted.  I’ve been using a method Geoff taught me years ago that works particularity well with raised beds.  I’ve posted the method several times before, but it’s worth repeating as it works so well.

I form a loose worked-up bed into three ridges (or two troughs) using a steel rake.  This year, before I planted the garlic cloves, I liberally dusted the entire bed with cilantro and anise hyssop seeds that I had saved.  I’m hoping to have an early harvest of cilantro and if the hyssop takes off, I’ll move some of it to other areas of the garden to use as an herb and as a pollinating insect attractor.  I really like anise hyssop, but I never seem to have enough of it, so I’m hoping this will work.

I’ll also seed and transplant spinach, lettuce and other greens into the bed in the spring, after I pull away the straw from the sprouted garlic.  Interplanting the garlic with greens pays off.  I get more production out of the bed and the greens seem to do well in the shade of the garlic flags.

I kneel on a plywood board to keep my knees from damaging the soft edges of the bed.  The garlic is planted  into the top of the ridges.  I push the cloves into the soil until they are just covered.  To plant the garlic neatly, I set down one row of plant markers on six inch centers.  I eyeball the planting for the two rows across from the markers, and the last row is planted alongside each marker.  A yardstick would work just as well, but this is an easy approach to getting the spacing just right.

I covered the bed with two small square bales of straw, using the small CobraHead tool to rip apart the sheaves and to fluff up the straw, thus making it as insulating as possible.  I then raked up and tamped down the straw with a small adjustable aluminum rake so the straw wouldn’t blow away in the gusty winds.  We’re looking forward to another good garlic harvest next July.

If you haven’t planted garlic yet, it’s not too late. You can also plant early in the spring, but your yield will not be as good in terms of bulb size.

The Great Garlic Harvest of 2011

Friday, July 15th, 2011

We harvested garlic, yesterday.  The bed was kind of weedy this year and I did not do my usual inter-planting with salad greens.  However the garlic was just fine and at the peak time for harvesting.  Last year we left it in the ground a little too long and the bulbs did not store as well as usual.  This year we think we got it at exactly the right time.

We used to grow soft neck garlic and it was quite easy to tell when it was ready to pick.  The leaves yellowed and fell over.  We switched to growing hard-necked varieties a few years ago after attending a garlic festival in Minnesota and seeing the greater variety and different tastes available in the hard neck types.  Judy thinks the soft necked types store better in our system, but we also think the hard necks do offer more in terms of flavor.  Maybe I’ll try a side-by-side planting of both next time.

Harvesting the garlic should not be accomplished by pulling the stems directly out of the ground.  The more gentle you are with the neck and bulb, the better the garlic will store.  A fork works well to get the bulb loose, but I found my broadfork to be even better.  With it, I could loosen up three or four bulbs at a time.  I then used my CobraHead to get under the bulbs and lift them out.  Easy, quick, and no damage at all.

Against most advice regarding preparing the bulbs for storage, we wash the dirt off the bulb before we store them.  We do this immediately after the garlic is removed from the bed.  We rub off as much dirt as we can with our hands, then swish the bulb around in a bucket of water to  remove the dirt stuck to the root mass.  We make sure we immediately lay the garlic out to dry.  We have found no problems with this method and we get reasonably good storage life.  The garlic sold in food stores all appears to have been washed, so we think it must be an okay practice.

If you wash the garlic, it’s imperative that you dry it quickly and thoroughly.  In the picture above, I’ve laid out most of the 100 bulbs we planted on a table with the bulbs exposed to the air and not touching one another.  We’ll keep them in the garage on this table for two weeks, re-arranging the pile a couple times to make sure they get dried out well.  Then we’ll trim off the stalks about six inches above the bulb top and trim off the root hairs close to the bulb.  We store the bulbs in hanging wire baskets in the basement.