The weather was so nice yesterday that I found myself gardening. I had to change into a tee shirt it was so warm. I planted garlic. Garlic should be planted in October or November, but I'm not really one to rush things. I'd been meaning to get it done but it was either raining or the ground was frozen or I had to work, or something else was interfering. So I planted mine on a 70*F day in January.
This is my lovely garden before I planted the garlic. I haven't yet gotten around to my fall cleanup. I need to, because the weeds that lie there now will germinate in the spring. Many of them have already dropped their seeds so my procrastination will bite me in the butt. Still, we do what we can as we find the time to do it, and I haven't found time to clean up the garden.
I use wide deep beds in my garden; I don't plant in rows. I began extending the beds on this end of the garden just a bit last year. I got the dirt dug deeply but didn't shovel dirt out of my paths and into my beds. That's why this first photo just shows a weedy flat spot and not anything remotely garden looking. So yesterday I shoveled the dirt out of the path and into the bed.
Much better! The weeds have been cleared away and the bed is now more clearly defined. I grow four types of garlic. This is not because I'm a garlic connoisseur but rather because I am clueless and didn't have the slightest notion about what kind of garlic to plant last fall. I found a sample pack of four types of garlic on sale and figured if one type died another would thrive. They all did pretty well.
I saved my three best bulbs from each of the four types. You always save your best for planting the next year, so your crop stays strong. Over the years as you save seeds and bulbs you select for the plants which do the best in your garden with your gardening methods and your stock improves.
When you open up the bulb of garlic you can see the individual cloves. You keep the bulb intact until you're ready to plant, then you separate the bulb into cloves. You plant each clove individually with the flat bit (where the roots are) down and the pointy bit up. Each clove will be a bulb next year. If it doesn't die. And you'll save your best three and eat the rest.
Here are my little cloves of garlic spaced out ready for planting. I like to lay them all on top of the ground before I plant them. That way I don't end up with some all bunched up at one end of the bed.
I also lay out the biggest cloves first and then kind of fill in the gaps with the small puny cloves. I don't know why I do that, other than it makes spacing easier and it seems to make sense not to have all your best cloves in one corner, in case you step on it or have a ground hog or other pest munch on one bit of the bed.
After putting the cloves into the ground so that the top pointy bit is an inch or two below the surface of the soil (no photos, it was pretty boring looking) I got some mulch from the ginormous pile of grass and leaf clippings beside the garden.
I mulched the bed thickly and not too carefully. The purpose of the mulch is NOT to keep the garlic from freezing, but rather to maintain a more consistent ground temperature in the Spring when the ground "heaves" due to repeated thawing and freezing. New garlic roots are fine and fragile; ground heave can cause the garlic to be torn from its delicate roots; killing the garlic or setting it back so that it produces an inferior bulb.