Hardneck garlic pushes through plastic mulch in a sea of straw. It's already been in the ground four months with four to go.
Straw is the latest thing to happen to my 50' x 50' garlic plot. It's just part of the ongoing saga for this little piece of land, commonly known as 5A around here. Last October, after a hard year's work growing melons and peppers, the plot was cleared, tilled and then had 7 cubic yards of prime organic compost added, followed by another tilling and mounding up of 11 planting rows, putting in drip irrigation and then covering each row with plastic mulch. Spread over a matter of days, it was pretty manageable. As Ron Popeil would say, "But that's not all!". The final step was to make about 4,000 slits in the plastic, then push a clove of beautiful Russian Red hardneck garlic through each slit. So, that was four months ago. Now the garlic has burst through the slits and all the weeds that came through with it have been pulled. However, in between the rows, where there is bare dirt, weeds are growing and that is where the straw comes in. Some of those weeds were pulled and tossed, others left untouched. As of this morning all the bare dirt and weeds have been covered with a nice layer of straw, 3 bales in all. That's going to be a powerful suppressant. Now all that's left to do is three or four foliar feedings over the next four months. Then, in late spring, this plot will begin giving back: First it will be a harvest of tasty, young garlic scapes, followed by the harvest of the garlic bulbs themselves, which will be pulled, bunched, and hung for a few weeks before making their debut in discerning kitchens around Sacramento and of course doing their part to ward off devils, werewolves and vampires!