Saturday, September 13, 2008

Garlic Bed

I did more digging in my new garlic bed today. I decided I couldn't wait much longer. I want the compost to decompose before the garlic is planted, and I'm guessing I'll be planting in about a month. The last of the seed garlic will arrive at the end of September from the Seed Savers Exchange.

The bed is about 10' long and 2 1/2' wide. I was trying to figure out how much of that I really needed for garlic and how much I would plant in something else, probably onions, next spring. I haven't planted garlic in a long time. I vaguely remember spacing it around 6" apart. If I give it 6", I can put 5 garlic cloves across the bed. If I take half of the bed, which is 5', I can put in 10 rows. That is 50 heads of garlic, which seems like a heck of a lot to me, until I think that in reality some will be pulled up green and some will not produce, and then some will have to be the next year's seed garlic. So maybe half the bed really is a good amount.

Without totally ripping up the pumpkin vine that has rooted in this bed, I could dig about 4' of the length. The other foot will have to go mostly unammended. Since this bed hasn't been dug in years and is near the drip line of my front yard maple trees, I decided to go fairly deeply to get out the roots. I usually don't dig my beds (well except the first time I use a bed). I will fork a bed deeply to add air, or mix compost into the top 6" but that is about as far as I go. This time I took out the top 8" then forked the subsoil up trying not to mix it too much, but trying to chop off any roots I found. Then I added about 3" of compost and put the top soil back on.

There were a lot of roots in the soil. The roots from my Daphne that is on the other side of the fence were all through it and I found one large 1 1/2" root that I think is from my tree. I cut them all off. They will of course come back, but at least for this year the garlic will have a chance.

It wasn't a lot of digging, 2 1/2' x 4' is a small section, but it was enough to get me dripping. I'll do the other half when the pumpkin is harvested and the vine is gone.

I know a lot of people that get their husbands to do the hard work in the garden, but I've never done that. I figure the garden is mine. It wouldn't be fair for me to do the fun stuff and someone else to do the real work. And for me digging is about the only real 'work' in the garden. The rest of it is all fun stuff. I wonder if that is why I adopt the philosophy that digging the soil is harmful to it. I don't want to do it and it gives me a good excuse. Or maybe the no-dig methods really are the best in places without horrible invading tree roots. I can definately say that my worms were not happy about my digging. Hopefully the give of compost will appease them.


  1. Hi Daphne, I enjoyed reading about your prep for the garlic, but got worn out with all that digging. I ordered my garlic from Seed Savers also, I really like the quality and selection. I have to plant soft neck here in the south and had good luck with the Inchelium red and ordered 4 packs of it. Ours is being sent end of Sept also. I did read to give it a good staw or hay mulch and did that last year with good results. I agree with the less digging is better school too. ;->

    Frances at Fairegarden

  2. Thanks for reminding me to get ready to put in the garlic. I agree that it is a good idea to dig in the compost a month or so before planting.

  3. I like doing the digging in my garden beds too Daphne. My hubby just helps out with the carpentry part of gardening. :) I look forward to seeing your garlic crop. That is something I've never grown before.

  4. Frances: I'm planting mostly hardnecks as I'm a northern gardener, but I envy you your softneck garlics since you can braid them. I'll have to remember to mulch it well.

    Deb: glad I could be of service. It is a good time to get the bed ready.

    Perennial Gardener: I like to turn compost into the soil and I like to fork it in the spring for aeration, but the real digging just seems like well, work to me.