Weeding and Fertilizing the Garlic

After spending the winter all snug in their beds, I decided it was time to weed and fertilize the garlic plants today. Like its cousin the onion, garlic is a fairly heavy feeder that doesn’t like competition from weeds. I wanted to get the weeds before they got out of control, or I got too busy to deal with them.

weeding the garlic (click on any image to enlarge)

Last fall I amended the beds with plenty of compost and some bone meal (4-12-0) before planting. After planting I mulched with some straw. And that was pretty much all I did with them until today.

garlic bed after weeding

The beds were starting to get a little weedy, mainly with chickweed and dead nettle, plus a few wheat plants that had sprouted from the straw. After weeding, I fertilized the bed with some blood meal (12-0-0), using about a pound for the 50 square foot bed. Then I lightly scratched the fertilizer in with my hoe.

fertilizing garlic with blood meal

Since we’re having a warmer and dried than usual spring, I decided to put some straw back down as a mulch to help retain moisture and to keep down the weeds. Then I gave the bed a good, thorough watering.

garlic bed after mulching

Last year I planted one of the two garlic beds with an 8 inch spacing, and the other with my usual 6 inch grid spacing. I have to say the 8 inch spaced bed was definitely easier to weed. At harvest time we will see if it results in increased yields.

garlic bed with 8" spacing

I will come back in about a month and fertilize the garlic beds again, probably with a liquid fish emulsion/seaweed mix. And if we don’t get enough rain, I will keep the garlic well watered until near harvest time, which usually begins here in July. Until then, our garlic supply from the 2011 harvest is holding out quite nicely. I’ll be back later with more garlic news as it develops.

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11 Responses to Weeding and Fertilizing the Garlic

  1. Daphne says:

    Your garlic looks fantastic. I’ve always done my garlic on the 6″ grid. It works well. I couldn’t imagine the bulbs getting all that much bigger. This year I only have one variety though. I used to have two, but one didn’t do well in the new garden so I tossed it. Well OK I ate it.

    • Dave says:

      The 8″ spacing won’t be a real scientific test, since it’s not exactly the same varieties in each bed. But if there’s a significant difference in size it should show up.

  2. Jenny says:

    Your garlic is beautiful! I only have a handfull of plants but haven’t fertilized them yet so might do that this weekend. I usually only use compost and kelp solution so will have to try bloodmeal.

    • Dave says:

      Nitrogen is what the garlic needs right now, and blood meal is a good organic source for it. This OSU Extension article talks about spring weeding and feeding and provides some other tips on garlic growing and harvesting.

  3. Liz says:

    I finished preparing my garlic area today. I will probably plant on the weekend – I wish I knew now which spacing worked the best. Oh well I guess I’ll just plant in a 15cm grid as usual.

  4. Robin says:

    I removed most of the straw from my garlic a couple of weeks ago. I had virtually no weeds!! I also left some straw in place to hold in what little moisture we have in the soil and to keep the weeds down. I think I’m going to give my garlic some blood meal today. Thanks for the tip!

    We really need a good rain! I have been watering a bit too. It’s so dry and we had no snow “real” this past winter.

  5. Jonathan says:

    I can’t wait to plant out our garlic plot this next fall. 🙂

    That chickweed you have/had isn’t a weed! It’s very edible. I think it tastes like snap peas, myself. It also has many health benefits.

    • Dave says:

      I think it taste like snap peas too, Jonathan. We are blessed with enough chickweed to feed an army! Too bad we don’t have chickens. What I pulled from the garlic bed wound up feeding the compost pile. 😉

  6. Jody says:

    Great post! This being our first time growing garlic, your play-by-play is very helpful. We’ll be getting out to put a little blood-meal down too now! Thanks.

  7. Ali says:

    This is very timely reminder for me. My garlic is just beginning to break through the soil so I need to get me some blood meal and get to work.

  8. mandy says:

    thanks for showing what you do with your garlic, i didn’t amend with anything other than compost last year, i’m going to add some blood meal later this week when i weed and mulch. your garlic’s looking great!

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