We have decided that we can use the whole month, or at least what is left of it, for garlic planting. The last few years we have done all of the planting in just one or two days time. This was mostly because that is the time we had available to get it done and so it was a one or two day planting marathon. This year, my husband is home and working the farm, and thus far the weather is cooperating (no heavy rain in the long term forecast) so I said, “We don’t have to do it all at once. We can do little at a time.”
Because like everything farming, planting garlic is weather dependent, we decided we better get started while the weather is good so, last night we began by sitting on the living room floor and taking apart the Chesnok Red seed garlic bulbs. Seed garlic is simply the largest of the garlic that we harvested this year. Each bulb is unwrapped and split into individual cloves which are then replanted and will form a new bulb next year. As we were working on taking apart the bulbs, of which there are about 15 lbs., or approximately 180-190 bulbs with an average of 8 cloves each, my husband said, “This is a lot of work. I don’t think people realize what goes into growing garlic.” I have to agree with him on both points, and I believe that is why there are very few garlic growers around.
We finished splitting up the Chesnok Red today, followed by 11 lbs. of Music garlic bulbs, then as we were working on the 10 lbs. of Red Toch my husband said, “Nobody in their right mind would want to be a garlic farmer.” True, but I don’t think anyone has ever accused me of being in my right mind.
As I write this, my husband is tilling up the area where we will be planting the garlic. We had planted it with a cover crop of clover few months back in order to enrich the soil with nitrogen. We will be planting each clove by hand again this year, because even though I found out through a google search that they do make small (2, 3 & 4 row) garlic planting implements, I also found out that my closest dealer of these machines was in Lithuania (the country). Apparently there is not much demand for them in the U.S.A. The good news is that I just did a google search to confirm this and found out that there is now a dealer in Pennsylvania (just a tad bit closer to home). It is a little late to consider buying one for this years planting, but by the time we are done planting we might just decide to price one for next year.
The area where we will plant this year measures 75′ x 45′ and over the next several days or weeks we will become very acquainted with this nitrogen rich soil, as we will spend much time on our hands and knees, placing each of the several thousand cloves, root side or fat side down, about 3 inches below the surface and making sure it is covered with soil. We plant them in groups of 4 rows, about 6 inches apart. A couple years ago we bought a piece of lattice to use as a grid. We place the lattice on the section of ground to be planted. Then with my husband on one side and myself on the other we each plant the two rows closest to us. We then pick up the lattice and put it on the next section to be planted.
It is our intention to start putting garlic in the ground tomorrow morning. I will update on our progress soon.