Garden

Forgotten Garlic Mystery

Has anyone ever planted garlic and left it for 2.5 years?

I actually entirely forgot they existed until the weed whacker emitted the distinct aroma.

I’m going to harvest them like normal but the subterranean growth is a complete mystery. Hopefully if not in an edible state, the bulbs will be viable for planting next year!

Advertisements
Standard
Garden

They survived…kinda

All of my non-herbaceous perennials dropped their leaves during a poorly timed dry spell last summer. Of course the first weekend that I could get out there, the rain clouds opened up while I was en route. Last year was a terribly executed attempt at absentee gardening.

At least the goosberries survived fully which may have something to do with their location receiving the most shade:

One of the raspberries survived as well. Nothing from the blackberries so far.

The hops are sprouting out of the soil like the most vigorous asparagus I have ever seen. I’ve read the tender shoots can be harvested and prepared exactly like asparagus:

Asparagus itself shows no sign of life.

The currants clung to life:

The current currant situation is a great opportunity to nerd out in plant biology in the next post.

Mulberries, filberts, blackberries and grapes are all lifeless currently. The blueberries are in the same state. A thick mat of an unknown, lush sedge (maybe a grass?) that I could not find them until after multiple winter weeding sessions. I believe that lush, unknown sedge has me eating the words published in this exuberant post.

To end on a positive note- Constant winter skirmishes in the war to regain territory lost to the occupant weeds in the previous year of neglect has made the garden beds visible at last:

Standard
Garden

Absentee Gardening

This year the plan is to set and forget. I am going to deeply mulch the garden beds and leave them be as I will only be able to check in once or twice a month. I’ve got a plan for produce self sufficiency that I will expand upon in the future.

Other than groundhogs, water will be the anticipated issue, does anyone have any suggestions for plants don’t require much in the way of thirst?

Standard
Garden

El niño year causing garlic top growth in winter

IMG_20160102_082114

This photo kind of hurts my eyes. I must have had HDR on for some reason so I apologize for that!

Fall planted garlic is not supposed to form top growth until spring! Winter has finally arrived after much of December seeing temperatures in the 70 degrees F.

If you are concerned about the effect of unseasonably warm winters on the success of garlic, fear not. Most reading I’ve done on gardening forums has assured that the top growth will die back in when cold finally sets in only to regrow in the spring causing no harm to the clove-bulb development that we seek.

Anyone else seeing this? Or has anyone had this happen in the past and want to provide some additional reassurance?

 

Standard
Garden

My go-to garden ground cover

Many, many times previously, I’ve mentioned my prefered ground cover of buckwheat and clover. Since even immature buckwheat helps soil structure, I tried to sneak in one last planting before frost with seeds from the earlier plants:

IMG_20151016_130154

To be completely honest, I’ve planted a few different clovers and I’m not longer aware which variety is depicted above. It is either dutch white, crimson or medium red clover.

Since the first frost occurred, all of the buckwheat is gone as I explained here. Yet the clover is still thriving and a deep green!

Standard
Garden

The virtues buckwheat in organic farming and gardening

Buckwheat is not a new development. It has been used for centuries including being found in correspondences regarding its weed suppressing powers between George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, two men notoriously obsessed with gardening. As the practices of agriculture changed along with the economic forces driving modern farming, buckwheat is no longer a widely cultivated crop.

However, those same forces of economics are also reviving buckwheat due to its weed suppression powers that require very little labor or inputs to harness. Growing in partially decaying organic matter is the property that causes buckwheat to be recommended as the first crop cultivated on idle or reclaimed land. By watering a few days before sowing, weeds germinate to then be smothered out by the fast growing buckwheat resulting in the permanent removal of those weed seeds from the soil seed bank.

Those weed suppressing powers coupled with its quick lifecycle make buckwheat a fantastic cover crop to prevent a summer annual weed infestation. Buckwheat takes 10 weeks to go from germination to seed and is a heavy phosphorus feeder. If only soil conditioning and weed suppression are desired with no consideration required for harvest, it can be mowed before maturity and the plant matter rapidly deteriorates releasing mineralized phosphorus into the soil for the next crop of plants. All together, buckwheat can usually be raised to a full crop between spring and fall plantings of other crops, or as a second crop behind long season crops like grains, corn, etc.

Looking specifically at the soil conditioning properties, buckwheat forms a dense network of very fine roots. While it cannot penetrate hardpan soils, buckwheat will leave all other soils mellow for a short time. This lightened soil can be taken advantage of immediately but immediate planting of the next (non-buckwheat) crop or the changes can be made more permanent when followed with a planting of something like ryegrass that forms a mycorrhizal root system.

Buckwheat nourishes the native and farmed pollinators. Recently, an alarming trend of unpredictable pollination damaging the yields of insect-pollinated crops has become apparent (Source, page 41). Buckwheat can be grown directly as a honey crop for beekeepers, or alongside other high value crops that require insect pollination. In the latter scenario, buckwheat attract the pollinators to the other crops to encourage thorough pollination.

Lastly comes the beneficial nutrients. Buckwheat is rich in protein at 18% crude, typically around 12% bioavailable (Source) making it an important source to those who do not consume much animal proteins. It’s high amino acid content is even more important as most cereal grains lack these important nutrients; most notably lysine, threonine, tryptophan, as well as non-amino acids in tannins and fiber (source). Thus buckwheat can supplement the nutrition of grain noodles, breads, etc. and most resources I have read recommend 20% replacement of wheat flour in baked goods or 50% in pancakes. Apparently buckwheat pancakes are delicious and uniquely flavored. I can’t wait to try them!

In terms of animal feed, lysine cannot be synthesized by animals meaning it must be sourced in feeds. As a result, lysine has become the limiting growth factor in animals raised for meat. Including buckwheat in feed rations supplies lysine among other nutrients and limits the need for lysine produced industrially via genetically modified bacterial fermentation which is now a $1.22 billion dollar industry.

To conclude, this plant conditions the soil, suppresses weeds, depletes the stored seed bank of weeds in the soil, boost nutrition of common foods/feeds, provides honey and encourages pollination of its neighbors. I think it is worthy of high praise in the organic gardening world.

PS: Buckwheat hulls do not conduct heat as much as many furniture fills. They are gaining renown as producing cool pillows when used as fill compared to many synthetics. However they contain an allergen that can aggravate asthma if you suffer from that condition. I am certainly going to experiment with this as well because I am always searching for the cool side of the pillow at night!

Cornell University has the most extensive buckwheat resource I have found.

Standard