Thursday, October 11, 2012

Fall weather and planting garlic in wide rows

A green spider with an ominous red spot in a dew-covered web

There has been a turn in the weather over the past three days with temperatures in the 60s and humidity near 100% each morning. These conditions cause dew to collect on spider webs and this makes them really stand out.

I am particularly fond of this tiny green spider with a wicked red spot on her abdomen. Her beautifully symmetrical web is strung between the tallest rosemary spikes by the back door.

Here are a few more...

This web, suspended in a sweetgum tree, was huge--more than five feet across.

A web under a neighbor's mailbox.

Trench composting between the wide rows.

 Red torch garlic
 from Burpee

I ordered it months ago, but Burpee did not ship garlic until Oct. 1 for my planting zone 9 location. This is a soft-necked garlic, which is the only type recommended for southern gardeners.

I prepared about a 4'x5' bed (where the okra was planted) with a good amount of extra compost and arranged three wide rows.

My plan for further enrichment of the area is adding a bucketful of kitchen scraps in the trenches between the rows. This is my method for trench composting: dig the trench an extra six inches deeper, lay in the kitchen scraps, cover with two inches of soil, and then mulch with pine needles up to the level of the planting surface. This adds various micronutrients including calcium from the eggshells.

Contents of one bag.

I bought two bags of garlic, which doesn't look like much until you break it into all its separate cloves, then there are about twenty in each bag.

After separating all the cloves from one bag...

I use my built-in measuring device--the spread between my thumb and finger is 7.5 inches.

The photo above shows the middle row, which is wide enough for three rows of garlic, while the photo below shows the right-hand row. In the photo below you can also see that I used the papery skins as part of the mulch.

After all the garlic bulbs were patted in, I added a fine layer of soil and on top of that a layer of  dried grass clippings to sweeten the soil.

The second trench is not yet mulched because I'll bury my next batch of kitchen scraps here. Then I'll mulch.
In wide-row planting I use enough pine needles in the trenches between the rows so that it is level with the planting surface. In this case I also added an inch-thick layer of pine needles on top of the grass clippings. A good amount of mulch is important for growing garlic in Florida because our winter weather is not continuously cold. We have 10 or 15 hard frosts, but in between the chilly weather it could be in the 70s.

I'll keep you informed on the garlic and my other winter vegetables as the season progresses.

Green Gardening Matters,
Ginny Stibolt

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