Go Go Go october
Kitchen Garden|October 2021
It might not be the height of the growing season but Stephanie Hafferty is still very busy with garlic, green manures, mulching and making a new compost heap using pallets
Stephanie Hafferty

One of the pleasures of growing your own is that one is always looking forward, preparing for seasons to come, even as nature is slowly preparing to rest for the winter. Clearing beds of summer crops creates space to plant for next summer’s garlic harvests.

Using no-dig methods means that beds are always ready for the next plantings, especially as regular hoeing keeps weeds to a minimum. I twist out the old plants, leaving most of the roots in the soil, which benefits the soil life and structure, and trowel out any weeds which might have been hiding there. A light tamping down with the back of a rake or my feet, and the bed is ready for the garlic.

GARLIC PLANTING

I mostly use my home-grown garlic as seed garlic, choosing healthy bulbs with the largest cloves. Splitting the bulbs, I put the larger cloves in one dish for sowing and the smaller ones in another to use in the kitchen. If you grow both, keep softneck and hardneck varieties separate so that you know which is which when planting. To tell the difference, softneck bulbs have a pliable stem (which can easily be plaited for example) and hardneck a stiff woody stem. It is also fine to use garlic from a shop, but it’s best to make sure that it is organic as treated garlic won’t sprout.

Using a dibber to make holes, planting 10-15cm (4-6in) apart in rows 30cm (12in) apart will allow plenty of space to hoe and also gives enough room for intercropping. Garlic has a long growing time, with harvests in June or July, so making the most of this space increases your pickings. After planting (I pop sticks at the end of each row so I can remember where the rows are) I spread a 2-3cm (¾-1in) mulch of compost and intercrop between the rows of garlic with winter-hardy salads such as lettuce, corn salad, land cress, and lamb’s lettuce. Looking ahead, once that is harvested in the spring, sow carrots between the rows for a follow-on crop once the garlic is harvested in the summer.

GREEN MANURES

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