Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Planting Garlic and Other Bulbs

Our bulbs are in for the year. It's always such a hopeful task as we enter into the darkness of winter. It's encouraging to think of the bright and cheerful daffodils and tulips that will emerge next spring.

Planting bulbs is a pretty straight forward process.

Dig a hole or a trench for the bulb to be planted.

A good rule for depth is 3 times the size of the bulb. I tend to do twice the size of the bulb, then add a good layer of compost and/or mulch to the surface.

A bulb planting tool can make it easy to plant individual bulbs. It take a kind of core-sample of the earth out, then pop the bulb in the hole and redistribute the soil. (Ours is pretty old and rusty, but still works like a champ.) 

The bulb should be planted point side up. If the bulb doesn't have an obvious "point" then check for signs of root buds, these should be facing down.

Bulbs do well with a thick layer of compost. It helps fertilize first thing in the spring and it discourages early weeds from taking over the sprouts.

Garlic is also a bulb and is planted in a similar manner.

We dig trenches so the garlic grows in straight rows,

and place the bulbs across the rows evenly before covering with earth and compost.

This year I'm growing two new varieties from Fruition Seeds that I picked up at the Mother Earth News Fair in Wisconsin. 

The first variety is called "Music" it's a large variety often mistaken for Elephant Garlic. It's "sweet and pungent." according to the description.

The second variety is called "Italian Red" it's a hard neck garlic with a mild flavor. 

When I was at the fair, I talked to one of the employees about growing garlic. Ours seems to come back smaller and smaller each year. Her advice was to "Eat the small ones, plant the large ones." This will be my rule going forward.

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