Garlic: Full Circle
Today, just shy of one year after our first garlic planting, I set out the garlic cloves for next year's garlic patch:
This is a milestone for us, because it's the first food that we've grown on a closed, self-sustaining cycle. Last year we bought our starter garlic bulbs, but this year I set aside the five biggest bulbs of each variety after curing and cleaning the harvest. Those were for seed for next year's garlic, and today I set them out (as last year, in 6-inch grids) and pushed them down into the earth. So next year's garlic, from seed to compost amendments to the eating, is all grown from what we have right here.
We'd like eventually for that to be the case with all of the veggies we grow, but seed saving for each of the dozen of varieties of things we grow is kind of hard to wrap my head around. This year I've stuck to the easy things — garlic cloves, dill, cilantro, and mustard. I think each year we'll try to add to our repertoire.
As for the garlic planting, I planted about the same amount as last year — five bulbs of each of three varieties (Spanish Rosa, early Italian, and late Italian):
That filled a 4x12 foot bed (rotated to be closer to the house this time, so that when the garlic is gone there will be space for fall plantings close to the house, which will be more convenient in snow that won't fall until 2014 — planning ahead!). If you hate math, I'll tell you that it works out to 192 cloves of garlic growing into new plants. But really, not every single one will take. That's more than the approximately 150 we planted last year, but I wanted to fill the space. Also, since we had to plant again before getting through the winter with this harvest, it's still too early for us to tell if that's the right amount or not. I'd rather have too much and end up giving it away than have too little and be stuck with bland food through the February and March, though
So after this winter we'll have a better sense of how much we need and can adjust amounts accordingly for winter of 2015.
And yeah, we're in it for the long game.