Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Well we had our first frost of the year on Monday the 19th of October. That was right on schedule as our region's average first frost date is October 20th. It wasn't a really hard frost, but it did whack our remaining peas. The lettuce and greens are still doing ok. I still haven't set up the cold frame for the winter. This should put a spur in my side to complete that project and protect my remaining veggies.

I planted a garlic bed this week. We ordered a set of garlic from Seed Saver's Exchange. This was our first order from this organization, after enjoying a hand-me down catalog from another gardening friend. They have the most unique, organic, heirloom stuff you are ever going to see. Toss in the fact that they are a non-profit with a unique mission, and you know I am going to be a fan. We ordered a variety called Chrysalis Purple. It is a hardneck - dependable, excellent flavor, large heads, yada, yada - you know how those catalogs make everything sound perfect. Anyway we got 5 bulbs with about 8 cloves per bulb. This order cost us a pricey $24 - $15.50 plus $8.50 for fed-ex shipping. Yikes that is just too much.

I planted them with the help of Carter and Quinn in the High wall garden. This garden gets full sun in the spring and then the sun tapers a bit in the summer with some blockage from nearby trees. This bed held green manure in the spring followed by tomatoes in the summer in 2008. My tenative plan for next year is garlic and spinach early followed by heat loving summer veggies - cantaloupe perhaps.

To prepare for the planting me and the boys turned the soil, raking out the white clover that I had undersown along with the tomatoes. This soil was still very rough. Not too long ago it held evergreen trees and shrubs and black plastic covered with decorative stones. There are still many stones and tree roots competing for space in this plot. I added to the mess by throwing in 5 or 6 large buckets of not quite broken down compost. My planting instructions said garlic likes lots of organic matter. After planting the cloves about 8 inches apart, we spread a thick layer of straw on top.

This is our second attempt at planting garlic. We put some storebought (not seed variety) garlic in the ground last fall. We got some production, but nothing to write home about. What we ended up harvesting were essentially slightly larger versions of the cloves that we planted. None of the garlic produced full bulbs with multiple cloves. The taste was fine, but the quantity and quality was poor.

One note: You can buy garlic pretty cheap in the store already minced in a large jar. It is so easy and convenient to throw into food. I can't see us replacing that conveniance even if our garlic production is wonderful. I think these bulbs are destined for roasted garlic appetizers.

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