Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Growing Garlic

Winter on the farm means it's time to plant garlic (and onions and kale and beets and turnips and get the idea.) One Saturday about two weeks ago we prepared our bed - which in the amidst the red clay soil in our garden means incorporating lots of compost.

The very best way to do these is with a turning fork like the one shown here. Forks like these can be found at specialty gardening stores like Smith & Hawken and can cost a pretty penny, but they are worth it! I've spent my gardening past using a shovel for this type of work and my arms and back are forever grateful for the creation of the turning fork.

The goal is to incorporate the compost uniformly through the soil so that you achieve a rich, dark, nutritious soil for your baby plants. Once we incorporated the compost, we shaped our bed into a raised bed. And then came the fun part - breaking open a head of garlic and planting the individual cloves. We planted the cloves roughly 4 inches apart in rows that are 6 inches apart. Then we watered and waited.

Within a week the garlic had poked it's green shoots through the soil and now they are climbing ever more quickly towards the sun.

As I look about our farm I'm amazed at how much we are able to grow on a relatively small patch of earth. We're leaving no space unturned - from the top of the garden shed to the base of our fruit trees to the tiny corners along our winding path. From this one third acre we are able to provide food for dozens of people who frequent our farmer's market. From this I realize what a modest footprint is needed to provide food for an entire family, and how each of us by implementing what we learn here at our own homes, can help reduce our burden on the planet. Every bit of food that we grow ourselves, is that much less food that is being propagated through the use of harmful chemicals, and generating the need for plastic packaging, and that is being shipped across the country for distribution. Besides, something about eating food you've grown yourself makes it absolutely delicious!

If you're a home gardening who's growing more than you can eat, consider sharing your bounty with the City Heights Farmer's Market Backyard Growers Program. You can learn more about it at

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