Gardening of the North Coast | Garlic is one of the good value crops – Times-Standard
The first signs of fall begin at the end of summer. A handful of jagged butterflies, hasty maple trees turning color, wild birds choked by song. There is a hunger for rain among everyone – humans, birds and all that is wild. For gardeners, now is the time to consider planting garlic.
These days, you’ll find a good selection of garlic seeds at local nurseries and farmers’ markets. Some cringe at the cost of seed garlic, as it can cost as much as $ 15 a pound. Don’t let that stop you from buying. Garlic is one of those good value crops. Each garlic clove in a single head will turn into a whole head the following summer. With garlic seeds, each head will give you 6 to 12 cloves. Here’s what to do:
Refrigerate first: You will get a better garlic crop if you refrigerate the buds for six weeks in the crisper of the refrigerator. This is especially necessary for coastal warm winter gardeners. Most autumns and winters, the ground just doesn’t get cold enough.
Think Big: As a rule of thumb, the bigger the clove you plant, the bigger the future head of garlic. It’s as simple as that.
Preparation: Careful preparation of the soil at planting time will give you a bountiful harvest next summer. Dig deep into the soil as much of the compost and composted manure as possible. Then add a tablespoon of 4-4-4 all-purpose organic fertilizer to the bottom of each small clove planting hole. This puts the nutrients straight to the roots.
Mulch: Once the bed has been planted, scrape in another round of 4-4-4. After watering in the bed, lay a thick layer of rice straw for mulching.
Water: Fall garlic likes cool, wet winter weather. The best part about growing garlic is that the rain does all the watering for you. Except this year can be a bit dry, so it may be necessary to water frequently until winter.
Feed in Spring: March is a good time to give garlic another feed. Remove the mulch and scrape in another round of 4-4-4. It’s also a good time to deal with the weeds that are starting to take over.
If the spring rains become light and sporadic, it may be necessary to water the garlic until May. It is essential that the garlic receives plenty of water during bud formation. Keeping weeds at bay is also necessary.
Terry Kramer is the Humboldt Botanical Garden site manager and a trained horticulturist and journalist. She has been writing a garden column for The Times-Standard since 1982. Contact her at [email protected]