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Monday, January 5, 2009

Getting around to growing garlic

Yes, you've all heard me lamenting the fact that I hadn't gotten my garlic into the ground as early as I wanted, but this weekend I braved the cold temperatures and cleaned out one of the beds, added compost and planted 36 garlic cloves. I dutifully covered two of my beds (the other one is harboring cabbage and turnips that need some help) under floating row covers. So, hopefully that will help protect the garlic and keep it from getting too water-logged and rotting out.

I did some research the other night and found out that, here in the Pacific Northwest, we can plant garlic from between October to January. I'm still a little dubious on the later time frame, but I guess only time will tell.

Two years ago I got a late start and planted a few cloves in the early spring. Well, let me tell you, that didn't work out so well. If I had done my research I would have learned that garlic planted in the spring here usually ends up growing not a head of garlic, but one huge clove. We still ate them, but they weren't really worth the trouble.

Garlic braidLast year, in the midst of tons of hospital action I went out and planted about 5 grocery store cloves of garlic during a much needed act of gardening therapy. Only 4 of them actually produced something (one was puny), but let me tell you, I was totally sold on the experience. It was dumb-ass easy and totally worth the little effort. I had visions of planting a whole bed full of garlic this year but, alas, never got around to it.

I figure that I had about an 80% success rate last year, so maybe I'll have something more like 60% given the late start and the crappy weather (my newly planted garlic is now sitting under a few inches of snow that started falling last night). That's about 28 heads of garlic. I'm not about to start expecting that amount, but it will be fun to see what happens. If it's a total failure, well, at least I'll have the bed cleared up for something else.

Anyway, after reading all this great literature on growing garlic from the county extension offices in our state, I started daydreaming about starting a garlic farm in Eastern Washington. Then I realized how damn cold it gets over there during the winter and quickly decided that maybe just turning my backyard into "Crunchy's Garlic Nirvana" is about as good as it's going to get for now.

For those of you just dying to know what's going on with the rest of my lamentations, I didn't move quickly enough on the pumpkins after the freeze and all 5 of them turned into thinly veiled squishy sacks of liquid pumpkin snot. It became readily obvious since they were starting to turn black. So, they went into the yard waste bin (I still need to get that compost thing rolling).

My grape vines are still dormant and probably will stay that way and out of the ground until spring. I just need to make sure they stay watered. Should I bring them inside or leave them outside?

And, finally, I brought my sorry, sad little Meyer lemon tree inside the other day. My mom announced last night that she thought it looked dead. Hopefully it will recover, but I have my doubts.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

I Crunchy Chicken from Anchorage Alaska. I got the jump off Sharon's site...so growing garlic in the Pacific NW....too rainy maybe? I hope it works for you. I'm going to start that little experiment this May. We shall see. it worked in Fairbanks Alaska but the summers are hotter and not so wet as here, near Anchorage. Looking forward to hearing if any little shoots pop up come May. Have you read The Egg and I, by Betty McDonald? She also wrote the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books. The Egg and I is about her adventures and a new wife and mom and chicken farmer's wife in rainy NW Washington. It's hilarious! Pee your pants hilarious! You would love it. It was written around 1930 but actually took place I'm guessing around 1910....

Cheers! Enjoy the cold weather we are sending your way soon....it's 20 below tonight!
Shelley in AK

Sarah said...

I put in garlic this fall and covered it with a layer of leaves. I have my fingers crossed that it is as easy as you say.

organicneedle said...

Do you think it would grow in a pot? Or would it be too warm inside? We go through a ton and it would be great to have our own.

ELP said...

Cruchy , I love the way you garden, you are a women that wants to do it right but like all women who have children, husband( one that is ill to), and a job we do the best we can and are ecstatic with results. If it turns out not so good we take it, throw it in the compost and thank the "pumpkin" for helping us make better soil next planting season.

CT said...

I too lost pumpkins to freezing/unexpected thawing. However, mine didn't just liquefy; after thawing, they were ripped open by greedy squirrels, who openly sat on my porch gnawing on the pumpkin seeds. At least my cats enjoyed watching the pumpkin carnage.

Anonymous said...

If nothing, the garlic scapes, or green shoot are really tasty and you can use them in place of garlic in the spring.
Caron in MA

Greenpa said...

I can tell you, authoritatively from Minnesota- "freezing weather" is not something you can "hope" will not be so bad. Hoping doesn't help. :-)

On time= works. Not on time= dead stuff. Every time! Isn't it wonderful that Ma Nature is so consistent! No ifs, ands, or buts.

mudnessa said...

oh i didnt even read this post . . . i may have to go on a crunchy hiatus because i get so jealous and depressed that i have a tiny little patio and cant grow a thing. i do have a few herbs but i love home grown veggies and fruit. but best of luck to everyone who is planning and planting. . .

Sharlene said...

I am honestly surprised you can grow garlic in Washington with much success. It really does much better in warmer climates. You need to take a trip to Gilroy in Northern California one year for their garlic festival. Talk about garlic heaven!

Latigo Liz said...

I need to get my garlic into my big black pots. Did OK, but not great with it last year. Need to get started like you have. *sigh* At least we have lots of new wood for making raised beds/boxes from dismantling the run-in shed yesterday.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Sharlene - Yes, you can grow garlic like crazy around here (particularly on the eastern side of the Cascades where it is hot and dry).

I have been to the Gilroy Garlic Festival when I lived in San Jose. I can't say that I really can appreciate garlic ice cream, but it was fun. Albeit waaaaay to hot for me - the festival, not the garlic.

Mudnessa - There's stuff you can grow indoors and on a tiny balcony. You can grow Meyer lemons and Key limes indoors along with a variety of other sprouts, mushrooms and whatnot. I'll do an indoor gardening post one of these days.

Actually, I did stuff a couple of garlic cloves into leftover black planting pots, just to see if it would work. Expect a full report and comparison to the bed-grown garlic.

Robj98168 said...

Crunchy- Hope springs eternal! Your meyer lemon tree may not be dead just sleeping. Just try giving it some love and tender care. I think your garlic will be fine.

jennconspiracy said...

I gotta plant my garlic too - bad, bad jenn!

Time to pull the rest of the tomato plants.

Abbie said...

I ordered a Meyer lemon tree the other day and I can't wait to have some yummy, local lemons from my own tree. I'm skeptical, but I hope it does well.

mudnessa said...

Thanks Crunchy but I do have a pretty black thumb anyways and indoors is a no go because my cats eat anything resembling a plant, even fake ones. I do have quite a bit of room on my patio but I am not even going to try that with the way the apartment management is. They come up with the most ridiculous excuses for making me take things down or not doing specific things. I'm amazed I have kept my compost bin under wraps for so long. I cant imagine the reason they would give me against that one. But I do look forward to more planting post and I doubt I could actually stop reading so dont worry, hehe.

sowbug said...

I'm in zone 5 (WI) and last year didn't plant my garlic until april 15. I harvested some decent garlic in august; one inch thick cloves; 5 or more in a bulb. So, I think it's possible to grow garlic if planted in the spring, but you probably have to also say the correct chant. Maybe the fact that I planted mine on tax day had some weird karmic thing going for it...

sealander said...

My Meyer lemon tree usually starts looking a bit sickly after exposure to regular frosts and occasional snowfall. So far it has always perked up again come spring, with the assistance of some liquid chicken manure. However, mine has never had all the leaves pulled off so I can't vouch for that treatment :)

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