Monday, October 14, 2013
Naked Garlic Planting
Naked refers to the state of the planted not the planter. Disease continues to plague our attempts to grow garlic. The matter is widespread in New York State. Last year we passed on a nearby three day conference focused on this issue. Instead we turned to the October 1, 2010 post on Daphne's Dandelions for a possible solution.
The above photo shows the status of our garlic bed yesterday evening. The far section is planted and mulched. The near section will be planted today. Potatoes grew here this year. Following their harvest, weeds were pulled and soil amendments added. Garden compost, old manure, woods soil, lime and molasses were added in turn. Then dried grass clippings were applied in a thick layer.
This week the clippings were pulled clear and the bed was worked with a stone fork. The fence was placed on the ground to define the spacing. Twenty-seven rows were marked eight inches apart. Spacing in each row is six inches. Spacing in the rows is a little sloppy but the distance between the rows is precise.
Grass clippings cover half of the bed. This is intended as a controlled test to measure the effects of the mulch.
This bulb is part of a purchase from a local grower. In the past her garlic has been excellent but this year's heavy continuous rainfall overwhelmed her ability to dry her crop. The outward appearance of an intact bulb identifies the problem. The wrappers are shrunken and soft. Fully half of her garlic bulbs proved to be in this condition. This represents a serious problem for her. Garlic is a major crop for her and she would never have sold bulbs in this condition had she known. Disappointed customers and insufficient planting stock will prove major problems for her.
Daphne's system involves an overnight soak in water with baking soda added. The cloves are then peeled and rinsed. Garlic with large cloves peeled rather easily but our small tight cloves were a genuine challenge. The brown circle of root growth at the base of each clove is a result of the overnight bath. A double clove would have gone unnoticed had that clove not been peeled.
These discards show rot that would have likely killed the plant. Regular clove popping would not have revealed the condition of these cloves. Of the four varieties treated, nearly one clove in five was found to be unsuited for planting. Since we have no experience with planting skinned cloves, half of each type was planted intact. If the carefully drawn planting map can be found in July, we can compare the yields of peeled cloves with intact cloves.
One of the attractions for us of growing garlic is the early start on the next season's garden. Fall is a time of growth ending but today we planted for next year. These buried cloves will send out root growth now in preparation for green growth that will appear soon after the snow departs. Somehow that just makes me feel good.