I’m Back and Planting My Garlic

We’ve been traveling (twice to Maine and one long trip to Namibia and Botswana for birding), hence my lengthy absence.   We came back to find that fall had come to the garden, so it is time here in the Northeast U.S. to plant garlic, the first crop of the 2014 growing season.   You want to plant it about six weeks before hard frost.  Before I get to the garlic, I’ll share one photo of birds from Namibia (the garlic is pretty monochromatic, so this will add some color to my post!)

Southern Carmine Bee-Eaters just returned to their nesting colony on the banks of the Kavango River.

Southern Carmine Bee-Eaters just returned to their nesting colony on the banks of the Kavango River.

Now to the garlic.  First you need to separate the heads into cloves, picking the largest, plumpest ones to plant.  The larger the clove, the larger the head next July.  I plant four varieties so I carefully keep them separate and labeled.

The best cloves, all sorted and labeled.

The best cloves, all sorted and labeled.

It’s important to choose a spot where you haven’t grown garlic recently.  I plan to plant the garlic where I just removed old, spent broccoli, and because broccoli is a heavy feeder, I amend the soil with some organic fertilizer as a “quick fix.”  I rake back the salt hay that was around the broccoli, take out any weeds and scatter the granules of fertilizer.  I then dig over the area with my spading fork.

All clear for planting.

All clear for planting.

Because the soil is very loose (not walked on in years), I put down a small sheet of plywood to kneel on as I plant.  I make a furrow, place the cloves (pointy end up, root end down) evenly across the row about 5″ apart and push them down into the soil about an inch.  Then I rake the soil back into the furrow and firm it with my hoe.   I label each variety and move on to the next, alphabetically just in case a label gets moved somehow.

Space them in furrows about 5" apart.

Space them in furrows about 5″ apart.

Tonight rain is expected so I’ll leave the salt hay off until it rains, then spread it back over.  It’s important that the garlic only develops its root system now and not send up leaves, so I will put a thick cover of leaves (maple is good) over the spot, once we get raking.

Tamped down, labeled and waiting for rain.

Tamped down, labeled and waiting for rain.

I’ll end with one more Africa picture.

Springbok at the waterhole in Okaukuejo Camp, Etosha NP, Namibia.

Springbok at the waterhole in Okaukuejo Camp, Etosha NP, Namibia.

 

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1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    Jessica said,

    This is a wonderful post, Kathy.

    Wow. Those bee-eaters are so gorgeous.

    You’ve also inspired me to think about setting aside a spot in my garden for garlic (and shallots) next year. It’s all a little too overgrown (and live is too chaotic, right now) to do it this season.

    I also love the photo of your garlic patch with your little booted toesies at the bottom of the frame. LOL

    🙂

    Jess

    Like


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