When it became clear we would be using our low raised beds to plant the garlic when it came in, I thought about how much space the garlic we planted last fall had taken, and thought we might be able to plant all three varieties in one bed. Maybe one and a half.
Boy, was I wrong. 😀
The garlic is sold by weigh so, technically, we got the same amount of seed garlic as we did last year, but when I opened the bags, it just seemed like… more.
It’s a good thing I take pictures and document everything, because I was able to look at last year’s post and compare.
The photo on the left is from last year, the one on the right is the garlic that came in today.
I even just happened to lay them out in the same order! The Purple Stripe is actually less than last year. Seven bulbs instead of eight, but this year’s bulbs were more consistent in size. Last year, we got seven Rocambole, but this year there is nine. The Porcelain Music had eight bulbs last year, and this year there is nine.
Separating hardneck garlic cloves is rather a lot more difficult than the soft neck garlic at the grocery store! 😀
Last year, we planted all the cloves. Even the little ones. The Porcelain Music had fewer cloves per bulb, but they were all large. With the other two, I separated out the little cloves for eating, and kept the larger ones for planting.
Which turns out to have been a good decision!
Last year, I planted the cloves at approximately six inches apart, but this time, I actually measured and marked a six in grid. Which was SO much easier now that the bed is raised up higher! Now I’m thinking I must have been closer to four or five inches, when I planted last year. At six inches, I filled one bed almost completely with Purple Stripe. There were maybe three prepared holes that did not get a clove planted in them. Which means this bed has 82 cloves planted.
The second bed got the Rocambole, which actually had more cloves. This bed is just a little bit longer than the first one, which gave me an extra row. I had exactly enough cloves to fit! That gives us 90 Rocambole garlic in that bed.
The third bed here still has beets in it, but thankfully, we finished cleaning up the carrot bed, yesterday.
The first thing I did was add half a bag (about 20 pounds) of hardwood pellets and work them into the top couple of inches of soil. Then the bed got watered, so the pellets would start absorbing moisture.
As with the other bed, I marked off a six in grid, though with this bed being so much lower, I did it by dragging a bamboo stake to mark the lines, first, then poking holes in where the intersected. Far less painful doing it that way!
I marked far more than I needed. Having just cleaned this bed out, I know that the edges get invaded by crab grass pretty heavily, so I tried to keep further away from the edges. I marked out 5 rows but, knowing I had fewer cloves with Porcelain Music, I laid the cloves out along four rows, first. I turned out to have exactly enough to fill a 4 x 13 grid, making for 52 cloves.
Which ended up being pretty much exactly half the bed. I placed the piece of wood across to mark how far the garlic is planted, so we know how much space we have when we plant something in the other half in the spring.
While I was working on the third bed, my daughter covered the low raised beds with a grass clipping mulch before moving on to other areas of the garden, then I used grass clippings the last bed. I hope to replace it with straw, when the bale comes in. The mulch has to be removed in the spring, once the overnight temperatures are warm enough. The garlic should be showing through the mulch by then. That is fine with straw, but the grass clippings may be too dense for the garlic to work its way through, so when the straw comes in, I plan to replace the grass clippings with it.
All three beds were finished with a fairly decent watering. Mostly to dampen the mulch than try and soak through it. We are still expected to warm up over the next few days, so this should be enough for now. Later on, as overnight temperatures drop and before the snow comes to say, we’ll cover the beds with plastic.
One thing is for sure. Working with the newly framed low raised beds is SO much better than the ground level beds, even though those ones are technically considered raised beds, too. It was easier to mark out distances, easier to reach the middle, and much MUCH easier on the back. Everything went so much faster because of this, too. I look forward to when all our garden beds are at least this high, or higher!
We had originally intended to double how much garlic we planted this year, but I am glad we decided not to, at the last minute. We would not have had enough beds ready to plant them all, if we had!
It should be interesting to see how these do next year. Not only will be be able to compare with the highly amended low raised beds in the same location as last year, but also the third bed in the main garden area. The low raised beds get full sun (meaning, at least 6 hours), but are shaded longer in the morning by the spruce grow and nearby Chinese elm. The third bed has nothing to shade the morning sun, and is far enough away from the trees by the house that it’s not affected by evening shadows, either.
Our 2022 garden now has its first plantings!