Yeah it's late, but I don't care

Well, I've done it. I've added another garden task to the list of things I need to stop thinking about and just do. Earlier this year it was the blueberry plants that I finally bought. Now, it's garlic. I've wanted to plant garlic for years, but since it's best planted in the fall and that's the time of year when I'm not really thinking about edibles, I always forget or don't get around to it.

I didn't get around to it last fall either, even though I talked a few times with my neighbor who did plant a whole bed of garlic before winter. Seeing a cheap bag of garlic at the big box store the other weekend, I decided to buy it and give spring planting a go.


I expect to either get very small heads since I didn't plant in the fall, or nothing.  Even if I get nothing useful, that's exactly what I'll have if I don't plant it, so what do I have to lose?

Besides, I need something to motivate me to finish cleaning up this planting bed. I started it a few weeks ago for my onion sets, and now it's time to finish.

The problems here are the same as with the first half of the bed: weeds, turf grass, the rocks that line the fence, and garlic chives:

Garlic chives. You'd think this was my main food
source based on the large number of plants I have.

I'll start by cutting a little trench to indicate the edge of the bed:

Then I'll use my flat-blade spade to strip the sod of weeds and turf. I was going to just compost the garlic chives, but when I dug them out I just couldn't bring myself to destroy a plant that was doing so well, so I transplanted a couple clumps nearby.

I'll probably regret it later this year, but maybe I'll stop them from dropping seed and things will be fine.

That's not grass -- it's garlic chive seedlings.

You can see the thick carpet of garlic chive seedlings growing here next to the "rocks" (concrete chunks), which I'll be removing. It's just too hard to weed between the rocks, so they'll have to go. Gives me more planting room too.

So that's the slate cleared. I left the small clump of chives at the end of the bed:

I love these flowers, and they don't seem to reseed as crazily as the garlic chives do, so I've got a clump at each end of this bed. This one should get much larger this year.

Time to work on the soil. Since it's heavy clay and still pretty wet, I'm not going to work it as much as I normally would. I removed several shovelfuls of soil:

Added a few inches of compost:

Worked it in somewhat:

Then returned the soil that was removed (after breaking it up a bit in the wheelbarrow):

Finally, more compost goes on top and I'm ready for planting:

Three heads (is that the right term?), $0.50 each:

Break them up, then lay out on top of the compost to get the spacing right:

Then just poke them into the compost (pointy side up), water and wait.

As I said I don't expect much to happen, but at the very least it will remind me to plant garlic again this fall I hope.

By the way, I ate one of the smaller cloves just to see what I could expect if and when I harvest. Not really a great choice for an early-morning garden snack. At least I'm working out here alone this morning.


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anne  – (May 4, 2011 at 6:46 AM)  

Although I haven't posted in a while (but mean to!) check out an old post on growing garlic that I wrote last year. The other nice perk about garlic is that it keeps animals away!

Mud  – (May 4, 2011 at 9:29 AM)  

I don't know if they'll form heads for you this year but they should have no problem sending up foliage. And if there's no head on them when you pull one up, just leave the rest in the ground another year!

Steve Lau  – (May 4, 2011 at 11:11 AM)  

In warm weather, they grow pretty fast so your garlic should be able to flower this year, and the seeds on top are an easy way to propagate them and grow more.

I grow both cloves and bulblets just because cloves give an earlier harvest, but bulblets will eventually make it to mature size too.

Alan  – (May 4, 2011 at 2:34 PM)  

Steve: I'll be removing the flowers, as I want the plant to focus its energy on the bulbs.

Curbstone Valley Farm  – (May 4, 2011 at 4:15 PM)  

I used to be terrible at remembering to purchase garlic in time for fall planting. Now I just remember that when the vampires are out and about around Halloween, that's the time to stock up on garlic ;) I actually remembered last fall, and have 2ft high garlic foliage in the garden. Good luck with your spring planting, some varieties are better suited to spring planting so it'll be interesting to see how it turns out.

Jennifer@threedogsinagarden  – (May 4, 2011 at 7:27 PM)  

I had 12 clumps of chives decorating the pathways through my circle garden at the back of our property. They looked terrific in bloom, but then they got messy looking and seeded little baby chives everywhere. So I ripped all of them out but 4! I hope 4 is more manageable.
As for garlic, I have no experience and look forward to seeing how your early planting works out.

Steve Lau  – (May 4, 2011 at 9:07 PM)  

I only removed it on some last year because I didn't have a very big crop yet, and you do get noticeably bigger bulbs by taking off the flowers. I did get around 1000 bulbils, and re-planted a lot of the cloves.

I'm probably going to remove around 80-90% of them this year because it doesn't take that many flower stalks to create a huge crop of miniature plants.

Desperate Gardener  – (May 5, 2011 at 3:58 PM)  

I really enjoyed this post, it's great to see what other people are doing in their gardens!I have chives coming out of my ears and actually just did a post on them too!

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