[Market-farming] garlic spacing -- the biannual garlic rant at Allan! ; -)

Alliums garlicgrower at green-logic.com
Mon Nov 7 09:12:19 EST 2005


Hi, Folks!

Allan wrote:

<<The drip was supposed to be turned off unless needed, but, 
apparently, a zealous intern saw the drip closed off and turned it 
on, so, during a dry spell in in July, the garlic, under 6inches of 
mulch, wound up getting an inch of water every time the lettuce 
needed an inch.>>


Allan, Allan, Allan - I was so proud of you last year, when I didn't have to
say a word about how you handled your garlic, but this year, I feel obliged
to whomp down the caps lock key and say:

WHAT WERE YOU THINKING, ALLAN?!?!?!?!?!?!?????!!!!!!?????!!!!?????!!!!!!?

THOU SHALT NOT WATER THY GARLIC AFTER MAY 31TH SO THAT IT CAN DRY DOWN AND
BE HARVESTED.  OTHERWISE, THOU SHALT GET ROT AND PLENTY OF IT, TOO!!!!!!!

First off, with all that mulch, why do you need to water at all?  In my
notes to USDA, I've noticed that I haven't watered my garlic for the past 5
years.  As my garlic is planted on raised beds of horse stable sweepings
(straw/manure mix), then covered with chopped leaves (easier to get around
here than straw), I've stuck my finger in the soil and found it damp enough
not to need to water.

Now, we've had some nasty droughts here in Southeastern PA and when it
doesn't rain in June, my garlic matures fast.  And when it seems that we're
in for a particularly nasty July/August (like this year -- rain?  What rain?
:-P), the garlic seems to know and matures *very* quickly -- I've gone from
harvesting through July to harvesting in mid-June to early July.  But the
bulbs are large and healthy, so I'm letting the garlic do what it wants to
do -- and it gets it dormant and out of the ground as the rains stop, so I
don't have to fuss with it and can spend the time on crops that really will
die if they aren't watered.

Second of all, when are you harvesting that you're watering in June and
July?  Even if you're harvesting in July, why did you think it would need
any water after the Summer Solstice, which is when all garlic is in its dry
down phase?  (I really mean this very nicely.)

<<We are on clay and, frankly, I should subsoil, but 
haven't.>>

Clay is my life, and it's probably subsoil, too, since the Housing Authority
sold off all the topsoil.  Compost is the only reason we have crops at all.
I've really found that if you give the garlic plenty of organic matter (and
preferably, organic matter really, really high in nitrogen), it does fine.
If you haven't subsoiled, I wouldn't worry too much as long as you're piling
on the organic matter.

<<I didn't suspect maggots, I suspected too much water.>>

I think that's it, too.

<<What I hope you do is make time to study the lifecycle of the maggots 
that are affecting garlic and then determine how to disrupt that 
cycle so they can be pests. And then, of course, share that 
information with us here.>>

I think you're right, here, too. 

You're going to be a great garlic grower, Allan, if I have to wear out my
caps lock key to do it! ;-D

Dorene

Dorene Pasekoff, Coordinator
St. John's United Church of Christ Organic Community Garden and Labyrinth

A mission of 
St. John's United Church of Christ, 315 Gay Street, Phoenixville, PA  19460





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