On the 20th, Andy tilled up our "dump garden". Our future plans for this plot of yard involve lots and lots of garlic. For the past two years, we planted these vampire-repelling bulbs in our large garden, so it's time to rotate crops. Plus, the dump garden is always open for whatever we feel needs to be there. This is an experiment in some ways because the soil in the dump garden is not garlic-friendly. It is a bit rocky, and typically, garlic grows best in rockless soil. Year by year, we're trying to get the soil in the dump garden to be more fertile and more garden-friendly.
Garlic is a pretty amazing herb (yes, it's an herb! Who knew!?). Most know it is an antioxidant, but it also boosts the immune system, lowers blood pressure, stabilizes blood sugar levels, and helps prevent ulcers. It is rich in, "Calcium, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, vitamin B-1, vitamin B-2, vitamin B-3, vitamin C, and zinc" (source).
This year, we planted 45 cloves, which we had collected from Farmers' Markets and from our own garden. We chose large cloves because those will produce the biggest heads and the biggest cloves next year. We use garlic in nearly every dish, and peeling tiny ones can be so tedious. I love me some big cloves. This is our fourth year planting garlic, so we're feeling pretty good about the process: till up the soil, plant them 1-2 inches deep and 4-6 inches apart, cover with 3-5 inches of mulch (leaves, hay, grass clippings), and wait for the spring to see tiny little green shoots.
The hope is that the leaves we used as mulch will help to condition the soil for future years. We meant to add compost to the soil, but Andy was too far into his element to remember. Oops! I guess this will be our variable year to see if the compost ever made a difference...although, I suppose we switched garden locations, so there are quite a few variables this year! An added excitement to our new planting is that garlic can keep away various insects, such as Japanese beetles, snails, root maggots, carrot root flies, and codling moths (source). Last year, we had an infestation of insects up at the dump garden, so we'll see if the garlic can meet expectations.
Here are some pics from Garlic Planting 2010: