Posts Tagged ‘planting 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 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 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.