A Fools Errand: Planting Garlic in Spring


 If you google “planting garlic in the Spring in Oregon,” the most frequent advice that comes back is, “don’t.”  Apparently, garlic needs the long, cold winter to develop a root system to create big, juicy bulbs for your roasting or tomato sauce pleasure.  Unfortunately, as is often our style, we saw the organic seed garlic and bought it, and then looked up those minor details of such things as when you put it in the ground.

We have three garden beds up the back of the house that were sorely neglected, so we decided to broad fork, weed and plant two of them out with garlic, with the justification that even if the garlic is a failure, at least those beds won’t be wasted. Here’s how we planted it out, using a combination of advice from Organic Gardening and my favorite blogger Erica from Northwest Edible Life (notice that her post, written in October, says to plant that day). 

The first step was to gently break the cloves from the bulb, doing whatever I could to keep the papery skin on.

garlic clove

The next step was to soak the garlic cloves in a seaweed and baking soda mix, of 1 tbsp each to 1 quart of water. We used three quarts for each of our garlic varietals: Nootka Rose, Late Italian Purple, and St. Helens.garlic cloves soaking I left them to soak while we 

To start, here is how the beds looked when we started.  

weedy garden bed

weedy garden bed

So, using a combination of our Meadow Creature Broadfork, our garden fork, and my hori hori knife, Anthony and I turned the beds into this:

weed free bedAs you can see on my face, being almost 9 months pregnant and broadforking/weeding a garden bed is kind of a lot of work.  I look forward to the day when bending over a garden bed doesn’t feel like an Olympic workout.

After we got out every damn weed and blade of grass, we raked in some organic compost that we picked up at our local feed store. 

composted garden bed

After that, the beds were ready to plant.  Once again, I used my hori hori knife (Even though this was my first gardening project, I can easily see that this will become my favorite, indispensable tool) to dig the holes. Also, once I realized my profound lack of depth perception extended to distance between holes, I used the handy ruler on the back of the knife to measure the bulbs six inches apart. If I weren’t lazy and had cleared out the third bed this was autumn, I would have done them inches apart on all sides, but considering it’s spring and they probably won’t grow that big anyway, I stuck with six inches. 

garlic bed prepared

After that, all that was left to do was drop in the garlic gloves, flatter side down. 

IMG 1719

After we did that, we covered the beds with straw that we found in the chicken coop on the property, and I proceeded to sleep for about 4 hours.

Hopefully, in 4-6 weeks, we’ll see some garlic greens/scapes, which would be awesome as I love to cook with them when I can (only taking a few as it’s not great for garlic growth, from what I’ve read.)

Oh, and in case anyone was wondering what Chewy was doing while I was planting said garlic?

naughtiest dog in the world

Discovering the joys of digging up a lawn the way only a city dog can.  My fault.

What are you excited to plant this season?
If you’re not planning on planting, what are you excited to eat this season? 

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