We planted a new garlic bed at Sunset Hills last week. In our zone, traditional garden wisdom says to plant garlic around Columbus day. That way the roots can start growing before the ground freezes, giving the bulbs a head start in spring. Our tomato garden is still going strong, and another gardener holds claim to the larger tilled patch, so we built our new garlic bed the only other place where it will still get full sun- behind this shed on the south end of the yard. It turns out, as a neighbor later told us, this shed was used to house a horse about 40 years ago. That means the soil is well fertilized!
It’s true, the soil is great. In a perfect world, we would’ve had our chickens scratch and peck the soil to prepare the bed for us, but we had neither the time nor the chicken tractor to do so. Instead, we bought a tiller from a neighbor to dig up the bed. Eric did most of the tilling… that little engine was strong and jerky. While he tilled, Eric’s mom and I pulled out as much of the grass and roots as we could, with rakes and by hand.
This is only one of the piles of grass we removed, there were several more. In the background, you can see Eric adding some soil amendments- we added leaf compost, granite dust, ash, and bat guano.
It’s best to plant garlic that was grown locally, so you know it’s suitable for your climate. On the right is garlic we’d harvested earlier in the summer, a hardneck variety and some elephant garlic, but it wasn’t enough for our new 12′ x 15′ garlic garden. Unfortunately we missed the boat on buying local garlic, but we’re betting the store-bought cloves on the left will grow just fine. We selected the biggest, healthiest-looking cloves to plant.
Each clove was planted about 2 inches deep and about 5 inches apart. We laid the bed out in four sections, separated by narrow walkways for us to get around, then fenced it in with wildlife netting to keep the deer out. We’ll add mulch before it gets too cold, to keep the ground a little warmer.
We had a couple storms last week, and the bamboo stakes holding the fence blew or fell over, allowing some deer in. We did see some cloves dug up, but mostly it just looks like the deer walked around a little and left. They’re not supposed to like garlic, but we’ll see- these suburban deer seem to eat pretty much everything. We re-staked the fence, so hopefully that’s the extent of the damage.
Our garden in Sunset Hills is part of a backyard in a small subdivision, which used to be one large family farm. In the background of the photo is the remaining farmland that hasn’t been developed. We’ve talked with old Farmer Hank, one of the neighbors, about leasing some of the beautiful, creek-bottom land for farming. He doesn’t seem too interested, but we’ll see!