Vampire-Proofing the Garden

This week we finally got our garlic in the mail from Burpee. It had been delayed by all the rain on the East coast this fall, but now that it's sunny and 80 degrees in October, we're ready to plant it out.

We decided to put it in one if the "C"s: the northeast C, to be exact. The more I think about it, the more I think we'll need mini street signs or some type of naming system to keep straight where things are planted (in addition to the massive war room-style graph paper maps we are drawing of each bed). Anyway, we had this prepped several weeks ago:

We decided that this would be (this season, anyway) for garlic and onions. That's mostly by default, since it's ready, and garlic needs to be planted in the fall in New England. Onions go out in very early spring, so even if we decide to call it quits on soil prep this fall, we'll at least be ready for those in March.

I ordered a half pound each of Spanish Roja, Early Italian, and Late Italian. A half pound, apparently, is about 4-5 bulbs. These are all soft-neck varieties, which aren't necessarily the best bet for our climate here in Massachusetts (as you may have guess by their names, they are warm-blooded Mediterranean types). Still, I thought I'd give them a try, since I was wooed by the romance of braiding them all together in nice North End grandma types of garlands to store them for the winter. We will mulch them with all the leaves we rake up from our two giant maple trees, and hopefully that will get them through the winter here.

Planting garlic is a piece of cake. You just break up the bulb into cloves and pop them into the soil. Keep them in their skins and press them down about an inch or two with your finger, then pat the soil back over the top of the little whole. They should be about 4-6 inches apart, thusly:

We are pretty conscientious square-foot gardeners, and we really like the orderly grids and rows of this system. We also like getting the absolute most out of our planting space, even though we have a much bigger garden than we did when we started planting this way at the Red House, where we used to live.

So we used a tape measure and a yardstick to keep each clove in its correct spot in a 6-inch planting grid.  This photo was taken when we were 2/3 of the way through. All told, we have 52 square feet of garlic, which works out to four bulbs per week for a year if every single one survives. That's probably too much, but you can never count on a perfect harvest, and we've never done this before. Having too much will also let us save our own seed cloves, so I'd rather err on the side of abundance since we have the space. And if we do have a bumper crop, we'll get to give some away, which is one of the most fun parts of gardening.


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