Flowers are an easy way to bring a bit of beauty into your garden. These popular flower types offer something for every gardener.
Seeds & Fertilizer
Springtime is peak bloom time for many flower varieties. Some of the most popular include tulips, daisies, and daffodils.
If you are a garlic lover, growing your own and harvesting fresh from the garden cannot be beat. This long-term crop, while easy to grow, requires a bit of preparation before the cloves are planted and winter rains set in. Prepping beds late summer goes a long way in assuring a great harvest next year. Here’s what to do:
ROTATE BEDS: The rule of thumb with growing garlic is never plant the same crop in the same bed year after year. This is because garlic is susceptible to few soil-borne diseases. Rotating beds every three years is best disease preventive practice.
SOIL: Preparing the soil is critical if you want big fat bulbs at harvest. After pulling up the summer squash vines and spent bush bean crops, dig in plenty of compost, composted weed-free chicken manure, worm castings and fertilizer. I have had very good luck using an all-purpose 4-4-4 organic fertilizer along with blood meal. It is good for garlic to have extra nitrogen at planting time.
CHILL: Good results can be had by chilling garlic in the refrigerator two to four weeks before planting. Put the bubs in a paper bag for storage. This cold stratification process helps garlic to produce bigger, better bulbs.
PLANT: Typically garlic is planted from October until early December. If you want big bulbs at harvest, you must start out with big bulbs that have fat cloves. Plant each clove six inches apart about an inch deep. To save on watering, do the planting just before the first big rainstorm. Otherwise, you will be watering extra during a dry fall.
WATER: If you can wait until fall rainy season commences, watering is not an issue. This is the best part about growing garlic, aside from the harvest. Winter rains do all the watering for months. If you want to do an early fall planting before rains begin, that is OK. Just make sure the planting receives plenty of water until the rainy season commences. When the weather warms up and dries out beginning in May, deep watering once a week is a must for a bountiful harvest.
MULCH: Weeds in spring are the enemy of the garlic patch and gardener. This is why it is important to mulch the garlic bed with a two to three inch layer of rice straw after planting cloves. In early spring, when shoots are up to six inches tall add another two to four inch layer of rice straw mulch. Pull out any stubborn weeds.
SPRING CARE: Other than keeping the garlic patch well watered if spring rains fail to materialize, there is not much to do with a garlic crop until harvest. In March, apply fertilizer. Pulling back the mulch and applying pelleted chicken manure or blood meal will make bulbs fatter. Be sure to put the mulch back. During late spring, the garlic will begin to send up curlicue flower shoots called scapes. Snap these off and cook them up. They are a tasty reminder of the goodness to come. Don’t allow garlic to flower as this takes away energy from making a big bulb.
Terry Kramer is a trained horticulturist and journalist. She has been writing a garden column for the Times-Standard since 1982. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.