Monday, April 18, 2011
90 Days To Harvest
Persistence, new ground and new seed have worked together to produce a fine stand of garlic plants. Conventional wisdom says to mulch a garlic bed in the fall. Placing rotting vegetative around new plants when mold and rot have been a persistent problem caused me to skip the mulch. Our snow cover was continuous last winter and snow served as mulch. That will not always be the case but for this crop we are now in great shape.
Neat rows and uniform spacing suggest fussy planting. That was hardly the case. Galvanized 2" X 4" wire fence was placed flat on the soil to guide the hole making dibble. Four plants per square foot may still be to dense but it is more generous than the former plan of six plants per square foot. A watchful eye will follow this crop to see if the spacing is still too tight.
The horrid rot that wiped out nearly all of last year's crop was partly the result of serious mistakes on my part. Composting, I believed, killed all of the bad guys. While the core of a well made compost pile generates enough heat to destroy pathogens, the cooler edges of the rotting pile kill nothing. Be selective in what is chosen to go into the compost pile. Some garden waste must be sent out with the garbage. None of my compost was used on the new beds opened for garlic. Rotted manure and forest litter were the only amendments placed there.
My other mistake was staying with my sick seed year after year. Unique sources now gone provided me with several former varieties. They are now gone forever, but I should have given them up years ago. Sections of the main garden will never in my lifetime grow disease free garlic.
Numerous gray flecks on the ground puzzled me for a time. All of that soil had been through the sifting screen to remove the stones. Some how the pictured stones passed through the half inch square mesh of the screen. These stones have a century of history interacting with tillers of this soil. They are not done yet.