They are hard to see from as they are just starting out, but anyone who knows garlic knows what they look like. Last season my soft neck garlic that I planted was a pitiful failure and I had one scape and it ended up getting stuck half way up the garlic stalk before bulbing out and exploding the stalk. This year with the right garlic seed for our agricultural zone we are seeing dramatic differences. Below is a quick re-cap of where we started last October and where we are at the middle of June.
The 2012-2013 Garlic Season:
With bird hunting over, we planted garlic on October 30th, 2012. I had ordered two varieties in the late summer from the Maine Potato Lady. They were the smallest size package available and the varieties were Russian Red & German Red. The beds were prepared and we put the garlic in the ground. The beds were mulched with shredded leaf litter and left until spring.
Right Around the last week of March 2013 or the first week of April, we lost most of our snow on the garlic beds, so I pulled away the leaf litter to exposed some of the soil in the raised beds. Within a few days the first signs of life from the garlic beds appeared.
By April 20th things were really starting to sprout!
Almost a month later the garlic and shallots were looking pretty green, and it looks like I possibly know what I am doing growing garlic here is New Hampshire!
A couple weeks later and the Garlic plants are standing 12”-18” high above the raised bed boxes.
June 15th and the two hard neck garlic beds which are the two left most beds are doing great. The soft neck beck which is the right most 4×4 be is looking sparse and yellow.
And today June 17th we have most of the Garlic plants with 4-6” scapes starting to push out. Hopefully this garlic tastes good and we produce a couple of sizable garlic bulbs that we can use as seed garlic for this fall!
After a good solid month of working around the house and planting the garden I can say as of last weekend I have all of the spring plantings complete. In the last month I have torn down and re-built a rock retaining wall, installed a new concrete block retaining wall added two new 4×8 beds, trellised some wild raspberry transplants that the wife relocated last year from the woods and planted our garden vegetables, two new blueberry bushes and eight or so new strawberry plants!
Some of the stems are a solid 5/8” to 3/4” in diameter which is well bigger than what we had last year with a generic soft-neck garlic. The heartier hard neck varieties really seem to be correct choice for our climate. It has been hard not to try and pull one up to see how big the single clove has grown. Looks like we will have to wait until July/August to find out just how big the garlic actually gets!
This year we have planted two varieties of potatoes that we picked up from the Tractor Supply Store. There is a five pound bag of Yukon Gold and a five pound bag of red potatoes. I wanted to get some seed stock from the Maine Potato Lady, but I just and out of time and did not around to placing an order. We are trying a couple new locations around the house for the potato cages we built last year and are also going to try a raised bed method of growing our potatoes.
This will be our first year for strawberries and have planted (14) plants. We went with all June bearing varieties of strawberries except for one variety of ever bearing. With any luck we will get some strawberries next month. Above our some older photos but many of the plants have flowered and have started growing some berries. This being the first year the harvest will be light. From what we have ready the plants have roughly a 3-5 year lifespan so you are encouraged to continually plant new plants from year to year. I believe you can harvest runners from the mother plant that you can than re-use as new plantings. We still have some research to do but they are in the ground!
Above is our raspberry trellis basically two metal posts with a couple wood cross members and some wire strung between them. We had watched a couple You-tube videos from the U-Maine Ag Office which over the course of a couple 5-6 minute videos teach you how to grow, and care for your raspberry plants. It was in the videos that we learned you should spread the canes apart in this v-shape to allow for good air movement between the plants. This run of raspberries which is close to 5’ long was started last year when Wendy dug up two clumps of canes from the wooded edge of our driveway and brought them up to the house. This year we should have a good crop or raspberries from the floricanes.
Thank goodness for these two hard workers or I easily could have been into June before I wrapped up the spring plantings!
What a difference a few warm days have made this week for my fall plantings last year.
Below is a photo from April 6th, 2013 of this year. I learned my lesson from the 2011-12 garlic season and cleared off my shredded leaf mulch as soon as the weather started to warm in early April and the snow melted off of my raised beds.
Below is a picture from today April 17th, 2013. Things are definitely starting to sprout up!
So if you recall the planting map below.
If you ignore the poor evening lighting and over exposure of the photo this is the top-most garden bed. This was also the bed that was covered in snow the longest and we have a lot of good sprouting. This bed was mostly Russian Red Garlic with the biggest French Gray Shallots around the Perimeter.
The bed below is the middle bed which consisted entirely of German Red Garlic with the exception of a half dozen Soft Neck Garlic at the very top of the bed in the photo. The soft neck really seems to be taking off.
Below is the lower most bed. This bed consisted of 50/50 split of Soft Neck Garlic and French Gray Shallots. Once again the Soft Neck Garlic in the top of the photo really appears to be taking off. The shallots are just starting to wake up.
Just another cool sprouting photo. Temps have been getting into the 60’s and hopefully they will stay that way. I hit all of the garlic beds with a couple gallons of water that had some oh so sweet smelling fish emulsion mixed in. Supposedly this will give the garlic and shallots a nice spring wake up call, or so I have read.
We also did some plantings today and have been doing some landscape edging, and even started replacing a rustic stone wall with a more streamlined concrete block retaining wall, but that is a post for another time.
Well I was able to find time to plant my garlic & shallots that I got this year from the Maine Potato Lady. It felt like an unseasonably warm October so I waited until close to the end of the month to plant my bulbs. I had a couple hours one evening before it got too dark and planted everything October 30th, 2012. It was a balmy 68F according to my double top secret treasure garlic map I scrawled on a piece of graph paper.
I planted three beds this year with a mixture of items in varying densities. I had two varieties of hard-neck garlic: Russian Red and German Red. I noted that the cloves I got with the Russian Red Garlic seemed to be a lot more durable and were easier to peel with out damaging the papery skin of the clove.
I got 49 large cloves from the Russian and about 25 large cloves from the German. At the end of the day I had about the same number of cloves from both varieties but the Russian Red cloves seemed to have way more large cloves.
All the cloves from these hard-neck varieties were way bigger than the soft-neck I planted last year. I decided to try the soft-neck garlic again even though I had limited success last season with this variety. I was able to pick up a package of soft-neck garlic from a local garden center which only seemed to carry soft-neck garlic. This seems odd for the New Hampshire climate, but I still figured I would give it a go. The cloves from the hard-neck garlic were about double the size of the soft-neck garlic.
In addition to the garlic, I am trying to grow shallots for the first time. I have had very limited success if I can call it that with onion sets planted in the spring so I figured shallots in the fall – why not…
The French Gray Shallots from the Maine Potato Lady were great for filling in some empty spots around some of my beds.
Due to some warm weather I did not cover the beds with some shredded leaf mulch until last weekend. This year I tried to really shred the leaves more with the lawn mower prior to raking/bagging the leaves up. I am also trying not to go as deep as I did last year. The depth of the mulch this year is in the 2-3” range as opposed to the 4-6” range. With three beds of garlic this time I am hoping to do a phased removal of the leaf mulch to see how that impacts garlic growth. Last year I may have left the mulch on a little to long and I think I smothered quite a few plants in the process. So time will tell.
I received my order from the Maine Potato Lady last week. This year in addition to some soft neck garlic I picked up at Bedford Fields Garden Center a few weeks ago we are going to try some heartier varieties of hard neck garlic. After surfing the Potato Lady’s website I decided on two varieties of garlic and some shallots. As you can see in the photo I got a bag of German Red and Russian Red garlic as well as some French Gray Shallots.
Upland bird hunting season and the shortening days have really put a hamper on outside activities, during the week. With any luck the weather will hold this weekend, and I can get a chance to plant the first halfof the garlic and shallots, followed by the last of the following weekend. I am not sure if staggering the plantings will make a difference, but everyone seems to suggest sequential plantings on your spring crops so maybe it will work for fall plantings as well.
This will be my second attempt at planting garlic, the first for shallots, and all will be planted in the raised beds that we have in the yard.