Deciding to plant garlic is a commitment. Not because it takes much skill to plant and it certainly doesn’t require much care. Nor does it take much space. The one thing it takes is time: almost 10 months from the time that you plant (now) until harvest (late next summer).
If you have a limited number of raised beds (like me) then you have to make some hard choices, because planting garlic now means that nothing else can be planted in that space until next fall. Yeah, that seems pretty clear. But deciding to plant garlic this fall has meant that my whole planting scheme has been thrown off.
This year I decided to plant Russian Red Garlic from West Coast Seeds. I started with six large bulbs, broke them into cloves and placed them on the soil to make sure that they were spaced correctly (see photo). The woman at the West Coast Seeds store said that garlic is quite fussy about how close it is to the next garlic and so I followed her recommendation and planted each clove about 15 -20 cm apart. After planting the garlic, I covered the bed with about 5 cm of leaves and also make a little fence out of suckers (or whatever those branches are that grow out of the side of the tree trunk). I watered the leaves, not because the soil was particularly dry, but to hopefully encourage the leaves to freeze into a blanket rather than blowing away.
The hard choice I have to make is about next years potatoes. Each year I rotate my beds around and this bed was supposed to be planted with potatoes next March. I am not sure if I will (a) skip a year and not plant potatoes, or (b) just plant them in the next planter over, which currently has the kale and cabbage. A decision for another time.
This super-long weekend featured lots of sun and gardening, so I continued to prepare for winter:
- Removed the tops off the tallest raspberry canes. Some of them are about 10 feel long and I am afraid that the whole cane will snap off if the top gets loaded down with snow. All the canes are about 7 feel tall now.
- Planted: blue tulips and more alliums, near the hydrangea in the back. See photos below. I covered this bed with leaves as well to act as mulch. While I was there, I cut off the remaining flower heads and added them to the mulch. They looked great, but I am afraid that snow loading will snap the branches.
- Siphoned the water out of the fountain and unplugged it for the year. I then drained all the hoses and coiled them up in the garage.
- Rinsed out the bird bath and then refilled it. Lately I have seen a lot of birds bathing there, so plan to keep it full all winter.
- Turned off the water spigot in the back of the garden. The on/off lever is underground, below a few bricks. Every time I remove the bricks, the space around the lever has filled in with dirt, slugs and worms. This year, after turning the lever off, I stuffed the space with a sheet of foam before putting the bricks back on.
- Removed all the brown chrysanthemums and other flowers that had fallen over in the front.
- Removed the yellowed leaves and stalks from the kale.
Next week: relocating the plum tree to the front yard, and moving around some of the bulbs that have become too crowded.