Ok, folks, spring is officially here, and there is no time to lose!
Barbolian Garlic Status Report: The garlic is growing strong! Better than strong: these sprouts look like my best crop ever! All that work that went into building the beds has really paid off!
Of course, alongside the garlic, the weeds. With longer days and warmer temps, they are already taking off and robbing the garlic of all those nutrients I carefully worked into the soil.
Garlic does not compete well with weeds. The garlic may be strong, but the weeds want to take over the world. We must not let them get that first stranglehold. The war begins, quietly.
The weeds are thick on the southern sides, testimony to the benefits of a raised bed and a southern exposure. Over the winter, they have served their purpose, holding the soil in place during heavy rains and strong winds. But now they must go. The beds keep the soil soft. Weeding is labor-intensive, but easy. I toss them into the paths between the beds, let them dry out for a few days, and then till them into the soil. Usually just turning them over with a shovel is enough, but I have a little tiller if I want to fire it up. I am finding more and more that the tiller isn’t that much faster, and it comes at a cost, but that discussion should be saved for a different post.
Next, I will help the garlic be strong in the face of adversity. I will support its drive to reproduce. (And then I will eat its delectable young.)
For now, it is primarily a leafy plant. The more it grows now, the more reserves it will have later for making bulbs. After eradicating the weeds, I will be side-dressing the garlic with a little blood meal to give it a nitrogen boost. Over the next few weeks, I will also periodically spray the plants with diluted seaweed and fish fertilizer, but will minimize any nitrogen fixes once the bulb formation starts.
Fortunately, the garlic pretty much holds it own at the moment, which leaves time for all the other spring chores: starting seeds, getting the veggie garden in shape, tilling in the green manure, doing any last-minute pruning, cleaning out the dead debris so plants can breathe – and tragic site: picking up all those branches that broke off the big fir tree after that recent heavy snow!
Ah, but that first daffodil! It is our assurance that warmer days are ahead (it’s still so freakin’ cold!). If I work hard, I stay warm. A little effort now will pay off big-time later. Visions of garlic sauce over pasta keep me going. Heavy on the garlic, please.