Next Year’s Garlic Breath
We’ve been blessed with a few sunny days recently, so we took advantage of it by picking last of the basil (for pesto) and beans (for next year’s crop). Corn stalks came out finally, and are serving as Halloween decorations on the front porch for the next couple of weeks.
My son graduated this past June and is taking a gap year to work and save a little money, so I’ve been putting him to work in the garden, hoping he’ll catch the bug. No real signs of that having happened so far, but it has turned him into a bit of a food snob (how can store-bought strawberries or tomatoes ever compare to the sun-warmed version straight off the vine?). It’s a start.
I harvested my garlic at the end of July, and it’s been curing in the basement ever since, waiting for a spot to come available in the veg patch. I have been planting the same hard-necked Russian variety for years, saving the best cloves for the following year’s crop. They’ve gotten consistently bigger over time, and are always plump, juicy, and delicious.
I made sure not to make the same mistake last year that I did in 2015, so I only planted about 80 cloves, thinking that was a more reasonable amount for our needs. Unfortunately, the composted chicken litter that I mulched the bed with was still a little hot, so we lost about half the bed. Thankfully, I pureed and froze the excess of the ridiculously large harvest from the year before, so we’ll have lots to see us through winter.
This isn’t a terribly good photo, but I wanted to show you what the bed looked like when the new crop went in. I left the basil stalks in place after my son picked the remaining leaves, and just popped the garlic cloves in between them. Pulling the spent basil plants out by the roots would have disturbed the soil organisms, and would have brought any dormant seeds hiding under last spring’s layer of compost to the surface, where they would sprout and create more work for me. No-dig gardening is all about doing less work, with bigger rewards. It reduces the need for weeding (by smothering existing weed seeds), and you don’t have to dig the compost in every time you plant, as it just gets spread on the surface once a year.
I planted 78 cloves out this time (13 rows of 6), and using my dibber, I had them all in the ground in about 10 minutes. No turning or amending the soil; quick and easy.
When it comes time to spread the new layer of compost over the bed later this fall/early winter, I will cut down any remaining basil stalks and just leave them in place to decompose under the mulch.
Now that the rain has returned, I can rest easy knowing that one of our most important crops is planted and ready to go. It’s the ultimate cold storage.