Prepared Garlic Planting Bed
Yup, I am leading off with a picture of dirt. That's not just any dirt. It's carefully prepared planting soil in my raised bed veggie garden. First I loosened the soil down about 4 inches or so with my special hand tool called a Korean Weeder/Cultivator. It was a gift from a friend several years ago. I didn't take a photo of the one I used today, but did find this one on the web to show you:
It's great for loosening the soil and digging up the weeds to prepare a bed for planting.
After loosening and weeding, I spread about two buckets full of aged homemade compost across the bed and mixed it in and smoothed it with the weeder. Then I used a standard cultivator tool to make 5 long rows across the garlic planting bed. I know from previous planting experience that I can get 5 rows of 7 or 8 garlic plants in this little square section of my raised bed garden. The square section is 1/8 of the total raised bed space, and I use a different section each year to rotate my crops and avoid diseases and soil burn out.
I chose this section of my garden today because I haven't planted garlic there for a few years and I intend to plant my lettuces and leafy greens there in the spring. I will plant them in between the rows of garlic that I planted today. The garlic tends to keep the bugs away from my greens, and that's a good thing. Garlic takes up very little garden space, so there is plenty of room for the greens to grow in between.
After soil preparation and row making, I went to fetch my garlic cloves. I usually only plant Calfornia white garlic (the kind they grow in Gilroy, CA the "Garlic Capitol of the World") because that is what I started planting years ago and have had great success with it. It is a medium hot garlic that is quite juicy, and I like it's flavor very well. I find that if I save a few heads of each harvest to plant the next year, the garlic flavor keeps getting better and better.
Well, this year I planted 5 different kinds of garlic, for two reasons:
One, I neglected to plant any garlic last year, so I did not have any garlic heads saved out to plant this year. All I had were a few cloves that were part of the 2 or 3 heads of white garlic that "volunteered" themselves in my garden this year. I must have missed them and left them in the ground when I harvested my summer 2007 garlic.
Two, I was influenced by both Farmgirl_dk's great post about garlic on her Critter Farm Blog last month where she talked about several kinds of garlic, and also by visiting my local organic farmer's store and finding many different kinds of organic garlic available for me to try.
I don't remember all the fancy names of the garlic varieties that I purchased and brought home to eat and plant, but here is a photo of the cloves I chose for planting today:
Garlic Cloves for planting
Clockwise from the upper left corner of the picture are purple cloves that came from a purple colored garlic head, tan or red cloves that came from a white head, my few homegrown California white garlic cloves that I saved from the volunteer garlic this year, purple cloves that came from a white colored garlic head, and lastly at the bottom of the frame we have white cloves that came from a white headed garlic that I bought in the organic farm store.
My guess is that the purchased white garlic cloves are the same CA white garlic variety that I have been planting for years. They look the same and felt the same when I broke the head apart. The shape of the cloves was sort of rounded as opposed to elongated like the "red" variety.
The rest of the purchased organic garlic that I planted today is a mixture of hard and softnecks, reds and purples, most likely all grown from seed garlic purchased at Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply. Our local organic farmer and I both buy seeds and some supplies from Peaceful Valley. Actually though, my first CA white garlic that I planted years ago, was conventionally grown garlic that I bought in the local supermarket for mere pennies.
Garlic is easy and fun to grow. I am excited this year to see how the new varieties of garlic will grow and produce.
So I finally got around to planting my fall garlic. Probably took me longer to tell you about it than it did to prepare and plant it!
Plant your own garlic. You will enjoy it.
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