The Garlic is in the Ground!
Some of the back breaking work was drastically reduced this time around as we upgraded our shovel for Mr Pasquali and Big Berta, a super hardworking Italian duo! Wow – what a difference to plough and hill rows in hours instead of days!
Garlic plants hate competition so mulching and weeding are super important, but man, what a time consuming crappy job! We spent way too many hours last growing season attending to pesky persistent weeds, so we are trialling a few new weed strategies this year. First we are trying Weed Gunnel for a portion of our crop. Weed gunnel is a weed mat certified for use on organic crops. Hopefully the extra cost and time spent preparing beds and planting will reduce the ridiculous amount of labour spent weeding, and also increase moisture retained in the soil.
Our second experiment was to seed living mulch between rows to be slashed and used as mulch throughout the growing season. We have chosen oats and vetch in the hope they will reduce other weed varieties, fix nitrogen and provide free mulch….as the current drought throughout NSW has made buying mulch in way too expensive.
Last year we experienced an unusually dry Winter followed by a dry Summer. Unfortunately the usual Autumn rains did not arrive to break the drought, so we decided not to increase the amount of garlic planted this year. As this is our second year on the farm we have had time to prepare and improve our soil before planting and have gained a better understanding of how far our water rations will go towards irrigation of our crop. Even if the elusive rain does not come we are confident of achieving a top quality garlic crop come harvest time.
In the hope of extending our garlic season we have added a new variety this year, a cold climate specific, late harvest variety called Dunganski. All going well we will be harvesting from late November 2018 through to Autumn 2019, having garlic available from December through to April/May!