Our 2023 garden: garlic planted, and topping up the high raised bed

Earlier today, I made a trip into town to hit the hardware store. I found the screws in the size I needed, though the cost was insane. A box with only 100 screws was $12.99 – about $4 more than the last time I got a 100 count box! Still, we’ll be able to finish the water bowl shelter now.

I also picked up a glass cutter. We have one somewhere, but I have no idea what happened to it. While I was in the city yesterday, the girls worked on clearing the broken glass from the inner pane of one of the sun room windows. There are still pieces that are firmly attached at the sides. Until that’s done, we can’t let the cats into the sun room. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get that cleaned up soon.

I was really happy to find the lever type door handle I was looking for. Just a simple, inexpensive handle for an interior door. It was easy to install, and it now no longer hurts to open my door!

Later on, my older daughter and I headed out to do some work in the garden, including planting these.

The Nootka Rose garlic on the left are a soft neck garlic. On the right, above the cloves, you can see the hard necks from the middle of the bulbs. They do make it easier to break the cloves apart! The cloves are larger, and there are fewer of them. Of the four bulbs, one of them had only three cloves!

The soft neck garlic has nothing like that in the middle. Just smaller and smaller cloves. I’ve never planted soft neck garlic before. While the hard neck garlic should be planted in the fall, in our climate zone, we can plant soft neck garlic in the spring – but we’re planting both now.

We moved the mulch aside and planted them the same way as the first row we planted a few days ago. The row in the middle of the bed got the hard neck Music variety, because there are fewer of them. Less reaching needed when it’s time to harvest!

After laying out the cloves to see how to space them, the kittens absolutely would not leave them alone! They also really, really wanted to dig in those freshly uncovered rows!

After planting, the rows were lightly covered to reduce compaction while watering – and protect from kitties.

Which didn’t work very well. Several of them started digging in to them to poop! One wouldn’t stop even while being directly spayed with the hose!

*sigh*

We did eventually persuade them to go elsewhere.

With the Nootka Rose garlic, there were enough that we planted only the largest cloves.

The remaining smaller cloves are now in the kitchen for us to taste test. 😊

That done, my daughter did some other clean up and gathering of support poles, while I turned my attention to the high raised bed.

The chard remains were pulled. They’re actually looking better after several frosts then they have all summer, now that there are no longer grasshoppers eating them. We were never able to eat any of it!

As expected, the soil level has dropped a fair bit, as the organic material buried in layers below, settle. It looks like some mice may have been trying to tunnel in one corner.

I have no doubt Rolando Moon has taken care of that problem for us already.

The last of the vines from the squash patch were added for more organic material – then smashed as flat as I could get it before adding fresh soil. The remaining soil sifted from what is now the garlic bed came in quite handy!

It had settled enough that it took three large wheelbarrows full of soil to top it up! I probably could have gotten away with two and a half, but it’s going to continue to settle, so a little extra is fine.

It then got a light, thin mulch of grass clippings before I gave the whole thing a thorough watering. I just want to protect the soil surface, not insulate it. In the spring, the mulch will be removed so the soil can warm up and thaw out faster.

We haven’t decided what to plant here next year, yet, but I think we should give it at least one more year for the upper layers to break down before we try to plant any deep root vegetables in it.

I feel like I’m really behind on preparing the beds for the winter. The girls aren’t able to help as much as usual, either. My younger daughter has been having knee issues to the point that she’s now using a cane to get around the house. She did try to go to a doctor about it, about 2 years ago, but it wasn’t taken seriously because she’s so young. It was already a battle to get her to see a doctor in the first place, so that certainly didn’t help. Anyhow, she does the best she can but, right now I’m actually the most able bodied person in our household. Which is kinda scary, considering how much I’m hurting this year! I didn’t expect my hands to be the main problem, though. Usually it’s my wrecked knees and feet. They’ve actually been relatively good, lately. Either that or the pain in my hands is making it seem like they are better.

Ah, well. We do what we can. It won’t be the end of the world if some beds don’t get weeded before winter and need to be done in the spring. There are other things that are higher on the necessity list.

Little by little, it’ll get done.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: fall planting, garden progress, and exciting news!

I’m just going to start with the exciting news.

The tree guys came today! They’ve been here all morning, and have just headed into town for a lunch break. They have finished the big pile in the outer yard. When they come back, they’ll do the small pile by the garage, then work on the piles in the maple grove.

Now, when the owner of the company came here for an estimate, we talked about getting as much done as possible for 3 hours, because that’s what my budget is.

When the guys came this morning and I was walking around with one of them, showing him where the piles were, and where they could dump the chips, he told me I’ve got them all day. He knew I had cash for them, and whatever else it cost, we can pay them as we are able.

!!!!

Which is good, because that big pile took about 4 hours to do.

Meanwhile…

Check out the sunflowers we have opening now! We did not plant any sunflowers this year, though it had been in the plans. There are a few things we didn’t plant, with how crazy this spring was. And yet, we have several sunflowers growing, all planted by the birds. And it looks like the extra bit of fertilizer they were in helped, too! πŸ˜‰

The Little Finger eggplant in the black grow bag are blooming! It would be awesome if we actually got some eggplant before the first frost hits.

I finally got to working on the cleaning up the lettuce bed.

I kept at least two of each variety of lettuce to go to seed.

After working on pulling out as many weed roots as I could, I decided it was not worth trying to plant anything at the end closest to the house. There’s just too many things spreading into there.

On the left is the Bloomsdale spinach I already planted.

Between the kittens and the grasshoppers, I decided these needed to be covered. I had some longer plastic coated metal stakes I got last year. The metal was hollow tubes, and they bent and broke easily in our soil. I ended up breaking some of them in half, to have me a bunch of shorter rods. I finally got to use the PEX tubing I picked up for this purpose. They fit over the metal stakes perfectly.

The small space near the Bloomsdale spinach got more Bloomsdale in it, while the longer space got Hybrid Olympia spinach planted in it.

After lashing the last of my 6′ bamboo stakes to the middle of the hoops, I grabbed the shorter pieces of mosquito netting from the main garden and set them up here. They are not pegged to the ground. I’m hoping to not need to do that. As they are now, it would be a simple matter to slide the slips up the hoops to be able to reach under. The excess on the ends are rolled around boards, which can also be easily moved, if needed.

The netting does have holes in it, so insects could still get in, but not as much.

When cleaning up this bed in the fall, I’m hoping to start adding walls to build it up higher. I’m just not sure what I’ll have available to use for that. I don’t expect to make high raised beds here, but I do want to have something in between a high and a low raised bed. Partly to make it easier on the back, but also partly to get it up and away from all those invasive plants! That and working around the lilac is a pain. This bed will be a maximum of 2′ wide, so we’ll be able to each all of it from just one side.

Oh! I see the tree guys coming back on the garage cam. Yay!

I am just so excited by the fabulous job they are doing!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: new growth, surprise growth, fall planting and our biggest harvest yet.

There is some lovely growth happening in the garden right now.

While we have lots of Cup of Moldova and Sophie’s Choice tomatoes ripening on their vines, these Yellow Pear tomatoes are looking to have a good crop, too. They are actually turning out larger than I expected for this variety. It should be interesting when they finally start turning colour!

These Carminat bean pods are getting so very long! I love their gorgeous dark purple.

With the purple pole beans, we can see quite a few pods developing, though the vines are still trying to extend their reach, and blooming all the way. The green pole beans (sheychelles) have wispy little pods forming, too.

Then I started weeding and discovered a hidden surprise.

There are ripe pods hidden among the greens! It turns out these beans start developing right near the ground, unlike the Carminat, which have no flowers or pods at all near the ground.

Awesome!

After finding these, I made a point of looking more closely at the Blue Grey Speckled Tepary beans – the shelling beans – too. They’ve been blooming for a while, but are still such tiny and delicate plants.

Sure enough, I found time tiny pods starting to form. Since these beans are for shelling only, they’ll just get weeding and watering until the pods are all dried.

We actually have yellow zucchini this year! Last year, I was sure we had at least one germinated, but after transplanting, all we got were green zucchini. So I am happy to get some this year. Especially since we still don’t have any green zucchini developing! We did have female flowers, but there were no male flowers blooming at the same time to pollinate them.

We are finally getting more Sunburst patty pan squash, too. There was also one Magda squash ready to harvest.

All the squash are SO far behind. The squash patch, which is mostly winter squash, and the summer squash bed should be enveloped in plants. It’s unlikely we have enough growing season left for most of them, but we should still get something from the smaller varieties.

Here is this morning’s harvest!

Yes, the peas are still producing! There was only a handful to harvest from the second planting, but it’s the most I’ve been able to pick in one day, this year. We have both the yellow bush beans, and the green pole beans.

With the lettuce, we normally just go in and grab however many leaves we want. This time, I harvested the plants in one area of the L shaped bed in the old kitchen garden, so that the space can be used again.

I was planning to plant fall spinach elsewhere in the main garden area, but changed my mind.

It’s just a small area for now. As more of the bed gets cleared, I’ll plant more.

We got another harvest in this morning, too.

This is the garlic from the bed in the main garden. There isn’t a lot, but they are much larger than last year’s drought garlic!

The other garlic is quite behind, so it might be a while before we can harvest those.

The freshly picked garlic is now strung up under my daughter’s old market tent, where it can get plenty of air circulation as it cures, and we won’t have to worry about it being rained on.

I am quite thrilled by how well these garlic did!

The Re-Farmer

Scrambling to catch up, and a court update

Today turned out to be a lovely day. Sunny, and at a high of 8C/46F, warmer than predicted. It made it very hard to believe that there is a storm and blizzard coming our way, starting tomorrow! While my phone’s weather app has been saying a blizzard was coming since yesterday, it was only until early this afternoon that my desktop app changed its forecast and began giving weather alerts.

After losing so much time yesterday, today was a day to scramble and get the essentials done. The rest will wait until spring.

Last night, the girls lifted the roof on the cat’s house, cleaned it out and replaced the old straw with fresh. Unfortunately, the heated water bowl had to be removed; the cord’s sheath had cracked, right where it contacted the bowl itself, exposing wire. That is unfortunate, as the heated water bowl made a huge difference last winter! So far, however, we are still expected to have mild temperatures, so we won’t need to plug in the electricity to the shelter. Which is good, because I forgot to buy a new 9V battery for the fire alarm we have in there. The ceramic terrarium bulb we have in there for warmth is well shielded, but we still want to have the alarm functional as a safety precaution.

I don’t know of the cats are happy with the clean up. I haven’t seen them in there, yet!

When I headed out this morning to do my rounds, I counted 20 cats.

But only Nosencrantz was willing to pause for a photo! πŸ˜€

One of the things I took care of while doing my rounds was to finally scatter some wildflower seeds.

I had two packages of wildflower seeds that were meant for the area outside the yard, in front of where the new sign is. Eventually, I want that entire strip to be filled with wildflowers for the pollinators – and so I don’t have to mow it anymore! I used a bulk sized spice shaker and some soil to scatter the seeds evenly.

This was something I expected to do in the middle of September, but it was just too warm. I didn’t want to risk the seeds germinating too early, and getting killed off when winter temperatures arrived. With the storm coming, these will get covered with snow and should be good to lie dormant until things melt in the spring.

Last night, the girls also used the insulated tarp we found in the garage a while back and used that to cover the septic tank, instead of straw. It’s large enough that it could be used, folded in half. It was full dark by then, so they just weighted it down with some fence posts. This morning, I shifted it a bit to get it right up against the house, then pegged it down.

As you can see by the two pegs on the right, I hit some rocks in the process!

By the time I pegged that down, I was done my rounds and headed inside to go through the trail cam files while eating breakfast. It was rather funny to see all the files of my mother and I, when I took pictures of her at the new sign. It feels so weird to see myself on video! πŸ˜€

By the afternoon, things had started to warm up nicely, so I headed outside.

The first thing I wanted to get done was scatter a different wildflower seed mix in the yard.

This one was an alternative lawn mix, for shade and partial shade, of flowers native to Western Canada. This double row of trees is really hard to tend, so I settled on this as the location for the seeds. Unlike the area in front of the sign, though, this one needed to be raked, first.

The first raking was to remove the leaves and debris, then it got raked again to loosen the soil surface a bit. There were some maple and willow suckers coming out of old stumps that needed to be pruned as well.

Then the packet – one larger packet of seeds – got added to the shaker with some soil and thoroughly mixed before being scattered on the raked ground.

Then, the leaves got raked back, as a mulch.
I look forward to seeing if this works in the spring!

One of the priorities on our to-do list was to finally repot our house plants. They’ve been hit with overnight frost, but amazingly, the aloe vera was still alive! They were overgrowing their post, though, so most of them ended up in the trench of the third low raised bed, to break down, except the biggest one that was too big to be buried in there, so it went to compost. I ended up transplanting 4 or 5 strong, healthy little aloe vera for the girls to bring inside later. The umbrella tree looked dead, but I pruned it back and repotted it, because it does actually seem to still have life to it! I would hate to have lost that thing. It had been doing so well, even with the cats constantly trying to get into it!

One of my daughters was working on commissions, so she could only come out to help briefly. My other daughter tried to help, but she was feeling sick and looked so horrible, I sent her inside. Poor thing felt so bad! She did, however, get the last hose put away for me, and was kind enough to run into the basement to shut off the water to the taps.

Once the water was shut off, I opened the back tap and put one of the new insulated hard covers for the taps on it, then finished putting up the rest of the insulation we put around the bottom of the house. This area had been left until we were done with using the taps, and the septic was covered. The front tap still needs its cover, but it is much more convenient to get at, so it can wait a bit.

Along with some other clean up, I did finally make it to the squash tunnel to prepare it for next year, but was only able to do one side before I had to go in for an expected phone call. The rain barrel was turned on its side and weighted down, the long tools and rolling seat went into the old garden shed, and the storage bin we kept to hold shorter tools and various other things we might find handy, went into the sun room. The things we have left undone are all things that will be okay if they wait until spring. It was just time to finally put the tools away!

Then I made a quick run into town to get a few things we thought we might run out of. The predicted storm is supposed to hit the south of our province, but it’s hard to know if we’ll get hit by it as well, or just catch the edges of it. At the very least, we expect to lose internet more often. That happens any time there is bad weather to the south of us. Though it is supposed to start with rain, we might get about a foot of snow, over two days, at which point we won’t be going anywhere for a while! I had already planned on tomorrow to be a baking day, and the last thing I wanted was to runout of ingredients in the middle of something!

Meanwhile…

I got an email from our vandal’s lawyer asking if I were available for the case management session on Monday. That went back and forth for a while. It turns out it will not be with just me, him and our vandal. It will be with the same judge that we’ve been in front of, this whole time.

My brother will not be able to make it, but we don’t want to delay this any more, so I took it. I feel more confident knowing that the judge will be there. The unfortunate thing is that it is going to be at 9am – in the big city, not the closer, small one we’ve been going to all this time. Worse; the court offices are downtown. So not only will I have to leave unfortunately early, just to make sure I have time to get lost among all those one way streets, but it’s going to cost more in fuel, and I’ll have to pay for parking. Minor things, but with costs going up, there just isn’t much wiggle room in the budget! Very annoying. But, it’s that, or wait a year for a trial. :-/

So that has been confirmed.

I am both looking forward to getting it done so quickly, and dreading it.

At least, by then, wherever snowfall we get from the storm will no longer be an issue. There will be plenty of time for any road clearing needed to be done by then!

As for our scramble to get stuff done, no, we weren’t able to finish it all, but the essentials are done, and the rest should be all right to wait until next year.

Speaking of next year, we’re made progress there, today, but that will be the topic of my next post! πŸ™‚

The Re-Farmer

On growing garlic

This year, I joined a number of gardening groups on social media. Either local groups or cold climate/zone 3 gardening groups. It’s pretty cool to see how many first time gardeners have been joining the groups and asking all sorts of questions.

This is the time of year for planting hard neck garlic, as we did yesterday, and there is a LOT of discussion on these groups right now, and people are sharing some really good links.

One really good video I saw shared was uploaded just yesterday, and it give a lot of good information. I think you’ll enjoy it, too.

He talks about hard neck garlic, soft neck garlic, seed garlic and even using store bought garlic, too.

I didn’t realize Elephant garlic isn’t actually garlic!

He talks about lots more, including harvesting “wet garlic”, which was something I wondered about when checking our own garlic last year.

Among the most discussed things I’ve been seeing in the gardening groups has been how deep to plant the cloves. There is a LOT of differing, even conflicting, advice. The thing is, the conflicting advice isn’t necessarily wrong. There can be quite a bit of variance, based on climate zones. For those in zone three, like myself, this was an excellent link that was shared. I also found this video, specific to planting garlic in zone 3.

I found it interesting that he says to leave the curing garlic out in the rain!

For those who aren’t necessarily in colder climates, here’s a video from MI Gardener (published September, 2018)

A lot of gardeners on my groups get seeds from MI Gardener, too, and are very happy with what they get.

There is a lot of information and advice out there, but if you can’t follow all of it, you know what? You can still get good garlic! We didn’t plant our cloves as deep as recommended for out zone, yet they survived the Polar Vortex just fine. We don’t have compost or manure to add, and we still got decent sized bulbs. That’s one of the beauties of gardening. You can do all sorts of things “wrong”, and chances are, you’ll still get decent results. What works in your own specific garden may also be quite different from what works in other places, too, so it will always be a learning experience.

Which is half the fun of the whole thing!

For those reading, do you have other things you plant in the fall? I’ve read about a number of vegetables that can be seeded in the fall, and plan to try it in the future, as we get our garden more established. If you plant garlic, do you plant hard or soft neck varieties? What works for you?

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021-22 garden: garlic is in!

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. πŸ˜€

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! πŸ˜€

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!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden; fall planting, and shallot surprise

Now that it’s “cooled off” again to 32C/90F (feels like 34C/93F), I headed back to the garden to remove the shade clothes and get those photos I promised.

Our surviving (barely) French Breakfast radishes, and rainbow chard.

Now that one of the beds has a window screen mesh covering it, I decided to take a chance.

I planted lettuces.

On the far left are the surviving purple kohlrabi, and in the middle are radishes. I forget which variety at the moment.

I had our four varieties of lettuce together in a slide lock bag, and they spilled a bit, so I planted the mixed up seeds at the bottom of the bag. So we are going to have lettuce surprise when they start to sprout!

Moving the cover on and off is still a two person job. The length of the cover makes it a bit too wobbly. We definitely need to make the permanent beds shorter, just for that!

A nice thing about the window screen mesh is that it slows down and breaks up the water, so it lands more gently. We don’t have the hose nozzle set on anything high pressure, but these surviving seedlings are still spindly and weak from being under those water bottle covers to protect them from insects and critters. With the mesh covering the ends, I have at least some hope that these lettuces will have a chance to survive. At this point, it’s the grasshoppers, more than the critters, that are an issue.

Once this was done, I decided to harvest the shallots. I’d been weeding the bed while watering this morning and accidentally pulled one up. I didn’t think they were doing well; many of the green parts had withered away completely, and I could no longer see where they were, while others just looked like they were struggling. The one I accidentally pulled up looked surprisingly large, so I left it there, to collect with the others this evening.

I was very pleasantly surprised!

As I started digging them up, I found they were much larger than expected. The one way at the far end in the photo is almost as big as an onion!

Then I accidentally dug up a shallot there there was no sign of any growing there anymore, and it was far larger than I expected, too. So I went back over the row and dug into each spot I knew I’d planted a shallot, and found several more! They are the smaller ones with no, or almost no, stems.

For now, they sit on a window screen, raised up on bricks for air circulation, to cure for a while. I’m quite pleased with what we got. Our original shallots, started from seed, were destroyed by the cats, so these ones are from sets I bought at the grocery store. There was only a dozen sets per bag, so I got two bags. A far cry from how many we would have had, if the ones from seed had survived, but way better than nothing at all! This is just awesome!

Tomorrow morning, I think I will start harvesting some of the onions. They are not all ready, but some of them definitely are. We have quite a lot of them, so I don’t mind harvesting and curing them in batches!

Being able to harvest things already, and even plant things for a fall harvest, kinda makes up for all the problems we’ve been having with the drought, critters and insects! We may not have as much as we hoped to in the spring, but we will still have food to harvest, and that’s the important part!

The Re-Farmer

Fall planting: the garlic is in!

I was so excited to finally get our bulbs this morning!

Here are the three varieties of garlic we ordered.

I appreciate how they add things to the label, like “best for roasting” , “rich, spicy flavour” and “big cloves with bold flavour”.

This is what 1 pound of each variety looks like. I wasn’t sure how many bulb heads or cloves that would translate into. That was the main reason I wasn’t sure if the two beds I’d prepared for them would be enough. At least I was reasonably sure it wasn’t going to be too much space! πŸ™‚

Today turned out to be a very windy day, so my daughter and I broke apart the cloves inside the house.

Those old take out containers were perfect for keeping the varieties organized!

Also, they made the house smell absolutely amazing!

I had been watering the prepared beds, to try and get moisture down to the layer of compost and straw buried inside. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to do that as often as I’d wanted to, so I gave them another thorough soak.

The frame used as a guide to dig 4′ x 8′ beds fit in the next space, inches to spare between it and the ring around the new compost pile. It was ready, just in case I needed a third bed.

Thankfully, I didn’t!

Porcelain Music Garlic

The first variety I planted was Music. Directions for planting hard neck garlic I have looked up, say to plant cloves 4 – 8 inches apart, in rows about 12 – 18 inches apart. Since we are doing beds rather than rows, I laid them out in a roughly 6 inch grid. The soil is so soft here, I was able to plant the by just pushing my gloved fingers in to the correct depth, without the need for any tools.

Purple Stripe Garlic

With the number of cloves we got from the Purple Stripe, my grid wasn’t quite as even at the end. πŸ˜€ The corners on this bed seemed like they would collapse a bit, so I moved the cloves that would have been planted there to the other side.

Once the two varieties were planted, I added boards to mark where the grid ended, and the third variety, which would be in both beds, started.

Racombole Garlic
Roggenrola (PokΓ©mon) - Bulbapedia, the community-driven PokΓ©mon encyclopedia

The last ones to plant were Racombole. Which sounds like a Pokemon.

Meet Roggenrola.

(image source)

The Racombole turned out to have a lot more cloves, including more smaller ones. It was almost like soft neck garlic that way. So these were planted slightly closer together. More like 4 inches apart, rather than 6. I probably shouldn’t have bothered to plant the smallest ones, but I didn’t want to waste a single clove!

Those boards across the beds also came in very handy to put a foot on to brace myself, making it easier for my short little arms to reach the middle. πŸ˜‰

Planting in these beds really demonstrated for me that building much higher raised beds for accessibility is a very good idea!

The next step was to add the mulch, and this is where the wind became a real potential problem.

Thankfully, I thought to put the chopped up straw on a tarp.

It was easy to slide the whole thing into the path between the beds. I could then grab handfuls, keeping them low and out of the wind as much as I could, to spread out.

I then had to rush to give the mulch a soak with the hose, more to weigh the mulch down than anything else! As you can see, the wind was already starting to blow the straw away!

The last step was to cover the beds with plastic – which the wind certainly made challenging! Thankfully, we’ve found a couple of rolls of plastic while cleaning up the house and basements, so we have plenty, and I could unroll it directly on the mulch, adding weights as I did.. The plastic is actually folded in half on the roll, and I didn’t bother to unfold it, so this is a double layer of plastic on the beds.

As you can see, those board across the beds came in handy for the weights, too!

The plastic isn’t something I’ve seen suggested, in general, but we are in zone three, and most of the places I’ve looked up are in at least a zone 6. While October is the month for planting hard neck garlic for them, we probably should have planted these at the end of September – and would have, if they had not been back ordered.

The issue is overnight temperatures. We’re consistently hovering just below freezing. In the long range forecasts, our highs for the day will be just barely above freezing.

There are a few things going for these beds that should help with our planting this late in our zone. Burying the organic matter at the bottom of the beds means there should be some warmth generated as they break down, just as it would have if it were in a compost pile. The mulch will also help regulate the temperatures and, finally, the plastic should help keep things a bit on the warm side. I don’t want it warm enough for the garlic to start sprouting, but they do need to start their growth below ground before winter temperatures set in.

I might remove the plastic later on. Snow also acts as an insulator, plus these beds should not need any watering throughout the growing season. Between normal precipitation and the mulch, they should have enough moisture. Letting the snow cover the beds would give them that first burst of moisture in the spring, and the beds being slightly raised means they should thaw out faster than the ground surrounding them. However, the plastic will also keep the moisture they already have from drying out before the snow falls, and will help the soil warm up even faster in the spring, giving the garlic a chance to start growing a bit earlier. I would then remove the plastic once I saw that greens were making their way through the mulch.

My mother grew garlic in the old kitchen garden, but she never used mulch or plastic or any of the other techniques I am using that irritates her so much. πŸ˜€ So I can’t go by how she did things, in past years.

So if there are any experienced garlic growers here, I would love to hear how you have done it! And would you leave the plastic, or take it off before the snow falls?

I’m really looking forward to seeing how these do. When it comes time to harvest them next year, we will be looking to save the largest bulbs for planting. Hopefully, we’ll have enough large ones to have more to plant than what we started with.

You just can’t have too much garlic, after all!

The Re-Farmer