garlic

today i started to get the garlic for next summer harvest planted. i may be a little early, but i'm hoping it won't make that much difference.
based upon results from this last garlic season i selected out 200 large cloves and most will be planted in similar soil to what i had the best results.
no clay no more. the quality was ok, the size was somewhat smaller (the largest bulbs were about 3/4 the size if the non-clay plantings), but the work to get them out of the ground is too much and depends upon the weather more than i'd like. we were stuck on garlic harvesting for a few days until some rain came along. i'd tried to harvest without the rain but after a few clumps it was not something i'd have been able to keep doing without a jackhammer or some other major source of ground breaking. which would have destroyed the patch it was planted in.
also in the clay the garlic had either birdsfoot trefoil or alfalfa as a cover. i think the net result was a wash. the less sunlight and competition for water was probably offet by there being more nitrogen in the soil. i could not tell exactly for sure as i didn't weigh or measure nor could i really control for moisture. so while the garlic grown in the clay with the cover crops would be sustainable, it would take some kind of reworking to get more organic material on a regular basis down deep enough in the clay so that you could get the bulbs harvested without resorting to dynomite, pick axes or waiting for rain to soften up the ground a bit.
in contrast the clay in the sandy loam were mostly harvested by tugging them out of the ground with one hand. only a few needed much more than that and it was done all with a small hand trowel (instead of stomping on a shovel with both feet after hopping up into the air and that was only going about 1" into the clay when it was dry).
guess where those 200 cloves are going? :) i'm about halfway done planting the garlic and then when the garlic is in i'll put peas/peapods over them as a cover crop for the fall/winter. before planting i weighed the cloves i planted so that i can get a resulting weight difference. about 2lbs of garlic. unfortunately i have yet to find a scale for more accurate weighing...
the fun continues. ;)
songbird
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My first garlic crop was from Gilroy garlic at Costco. It did fine and I kept some of the larger cloves and planted them. Have continued that for several years now and I get a good crop each year. I guess by now the stuff is acclimated to my climate.
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Got a farmers market? Grown in Florida would be better for you, eh? Watch out for the "farmer's market" vendors that don't actually grow what they sell, of course.
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Do a search for "cajun" garlic. IIRC, there are varieties that do well on the gulf coast and don't need a cold winter's sleep. ....And to think my cold climate, just this once, is a _good_ thing!
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Gary Woods AKA K2AHC- PGP key on request, or at home.earthlink.net/~garygarlic
Zone 5/4 in upstate New York, 1420' elevation. NY WO G
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But those are good to plant. At least one thing (ontario canada garlic will probably find it via web search) claims that planting them "rejuvenates" (nicely vague) the resulting bulbs/cloves for further generations. In any case, they will, depending on size (I have quite large ones from "Spanish Roja") either produce a new head, or a single giant clove (aka "round" & poplar with those who hate to peel when using large quantities of garlic) which if planted again rather than eaten will then make a head.
The ones that start tiny may take a few years of replanting - I'll be surprised if I don't get heads out of the 60 I'm saving for the garden next year (ie, to plant as soon as I have space cleared this year), since they are nearly the size of some of the cloves from the largest heads (some of the smaller bulbils have gone into the woods, after I noticed a garlic happily growing where I would never have thought to plant one - in the shady woods just off the deck, near where I clean the stuff.) I gave 197 medium ones to someone else to get a start on this variety of garlic.
My mutt garlic sometimes has no top bulbs, or gets pregnant in the stem (not like a scape), where the Spanish Roja (new to me this year) has a more classic scape arrangement. After doing a bit of research this spring I let them all go, since one of the few people who had actually done a side-by-side test got more garlic from the ones they left the scapes on, and other than people blindly repeating (without evidence) the "common knowledge" that cutting the scapes off "forced more energy into the bulb" most other things said it was a wash either way - i.e., did not matter. So, I'm only going to cut them off if I'm eating them, unless I feel all scientific one year and do my own randomized test.
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