Sunday, November 23, 2008
Garlic and Cover crops
I soak my garlic in rain water (or compost tea if i have it) for 24 hours before planting. Doing so hydrates the cloves and signals them to wake up and start growing. I did it this past Monday in anticipation of planting on Tuesday but the temperature dropped into the low 20's (extreme for November here in Georgia) so I had to postpone the planting until today. I didn't want them to rot so Tuesday I drained off the water and covered the container to retain the humidity and keep the cloves hydrated. When i got them out to separate the cloves this morning many had started to grow roots and shoots! They were eager to get on with their jobs of turning, air, water, light and minerals into health-giving food.
I planted them about 4 " apart in soil that i tilled lightly. I just hold the cloves in my fingers and push them into the soil a couple of inches deep. Last fall i bought enough bulbs to plant an acre when i only had a couple of hundred square feet of beds dedicated to garlic. I ended up planting some in beds that had been recently seeded with clover and rye for a cover crop. Much to my surprise this spring, the garlic was growing well among the cover crop and ended up producing very nice bulbs. So this time i over-seeded the beds with new zealand white clover that i inoculated with nitrogen producing bacteria.
Since this was the first year growing a garden here at the Funny Farm much of the soil is not yet in the best condition. Some of the beds have produced 2-3 crops this year. In parts of the garden the soil is still lacking in organic matter so i am concentrating on improving the soil this fall and winter before planting crops next spring. In the worst beds i tilled in 4" of fresh horse manure (we get it free from the Atlanta Mounted Police Patrol stables) and sowed clover and rye which I will till in next spring. I sowed the clover and rye in the rest of the beds which i will also till in next spring. I never leave a bed without something growing in it because the soil microorganisms need growing roots to keep them active and doing their jobs converting minerals and organic matter into compounds that plants can use for food or feeding on those pesky disease organisms. It is much easier to keep the soil healthy than it is to constantly fight pests and diseases.
That is the basis of growing organically. Work with mother nature not against her.
Happy Holiday Ya'll.