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Gardening Underground

October 1, 2012


I dug another bed of sweet potatoes Saturday morning so that I could get some garlic planted. When the harvest is “underground” as with crops such as sweet potatoes and garlic, I always worry that I’m early, or late, or even that gophers have cleaned me out (not happened yet but you never know).

In spite of this pre-harvest anxiety, I always enjoy the “dig” when I get to find out what is below, a bounty or not.

This bed had mostly “porto rico” sweet potatoes in it; the Vardaman in a nearby bed were a big success so I hoped these worked out as well.

Uh…. I think it was a success….. some monstrous but ugly cracked tubers emerged.

A couple were almost football sized; I had read that they would grow until frost but would perhaps not be “market pretty” after they passed a certain size. Now I understand lol….

The rain held off long enough for me to rehab the bed with some fresh compost and a little bone meal, so this would be the initial garlic planting weekend of the season after all….

To increase the size of the individual heads of garlic in your garden each year, save largest heads for “seed”, then at planting time only use the largest cloves off. Be careful not to damage the clove skins as this will protect the clove until it breaks dormancy and starts putting out roots.

I generally pick most of the wrapper off of my seed first, usually somewhere I shouldn’t so that the “garlic paper” gets wet and bonds to the surface of whichever steps I forgot to sweep off before the rain came. (Sorry dear.)

At this point I carefully select the best cloves and segregate them for planting. (The central and smaller cloves get to to come in and be peeled and roasted for dinner.)

I set my cloves out on a 6″ grid and this year pushed them a little deeper (2″-3″) than last year; hopefully this helps the necks a bit. Last year I planted some too shallow and I believe it contributed to the deterioration of the bulb wrapper at the stem connection near the surface of the soil.

I learned that eyeballing will almost always screw up the grid’s spacing so I actually use a 48″ straight edge ruler to get it right….

So one crop that was underground for over 4 months was uncovered and one that will be underground for 8-9 months replaced it. That’s it for this bed again until May or June….

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Genene permalink
    October 2, 2012 1:32 am

    Once again…. JEALOUS! Awesome sweet potatoes. I appreciate the tutorial on garlic too. Only tried to grow it once & it didn’t do too well. Time to give it another go. Great post!

    • October 2, 2012 5:15 am

      Once you get the general idea garlic is pretty easy i promise

  2. Brent Eamer permalink
    October 11, 2012 6:50 am

    I just planted my garlic last night. Bogatyr, Legacy and Music. This is my third year, and I read this post some time ago and I buried mine deeper as well. For reasons of frost as well as the conditions you described.


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