video tutorials, tried-and-true tips + our latest learnings to surround you with abundance all season long
'Tis the season when leaves are falling and streets are lined with ready-made mulch, compost-to-be, nutrient dense and often already bagged for the intrepid gardener to stock up one of the quickest ways to build top-notch soil.
Here are three keys to maximizing your leaves this fall, to build your soil quickly and mulch most effectively:
Only apply deciduous leaves as mulch in your garden beds. Coniferous pine needles will decompose and acidify your soil, often making the resulting pH less than ideal for growing vegetables, flowers and herbs. If you’re growing blueberries, rhododendrons or want blue hydrangeas, coniferous materials are one of the easiest ways to both mulch and feed them.
Whether you’re building your soil with leaves or spreading them as mulch, send your leaves through a chipper/shredder first. I’ve learned the hard...
Garlic is one of the easiest and most rewarding crops to grow, though it's not a cakewalk. I've grown garlic here in the Finger Lakes for over nearly three decades and here are the keys to surrounding yourself with abundance.
We've recently become enamored with growing shallots as well, which are grown in exactly the same way.
Garlic is planted in fall, allowing the cold to divide each clove into the bulb to come. Plant between Halloween and Thanksgiving for the healthiest garlic growth. Your goal is for each clove to establish its root system while growing as little shoot as possible.
Biggest Mistake: Planting too early.
Why? Garlic establishes it's root system before sending up a green shoot. Planted too early, the green shoot can rise several inches, acting as a straw over the winter to draw water from the clove, effectively desiccating the clove and potentially killing it.
Easy Solution: Plant between Halloween and Thanksgiving.
I love eating garlic.
All season long.
I've let untold bulbs of garlic sprout, shrivel and mold over the years.
My hope for the Fruition Garden Journal is to save you time, money and heartache, so here is how to store garlic well, for seasons to come.
The short story:
- 56 to 58 F
- 45 to 50% relative humidity
- Plastic mesh bags are ideal
Bottom line: Fairly cool, relatively dry & well-ventilated areas store garlic best
Clean bulbs in mesh bags with good airflow, cool temps and moderate relative humidity have the greatest longevity.
Like anything, there is so much more to consider.
Here's the full story:
The storage life of your garlic is a complex equation, with three main variables:
- Growing Conditions
- Storage Conditions
Let's dig a little deeper.
Beyond softneck and hardneck, there are many different DNA types of garlic with thousands of...
Flavor keeps me coming back to the garden.
Keeps me coming back to myself.
Garlic and shallots, with their exquisite flavor and versatility, accompany me to the kitchen in each season.
For many years, I had no idea different varieties of garlic could taste to different. Several years back, we hosted a gathering of friends, chefs and food writers, garlic lovers and garlic haters alike. We sauteed and roasted 17 varieties of garlic (it's true), each one labeled. A feast we set out, each dish without garlic: roasts and quiches, olive oil and baguette, smashed potatoes and hummus. We then added garlic to each dish, one variety after another, attempting to characterize and articulate what we were tasting.
Italy Hill Porcelain is our favorite variety for making pesto.
The unanimous conclusion: We all know the apple varieties we like best. Surely you know if you prefer an Empire over a Granny Smith, for example. But in our rush to commoditize food, we've largely forgotten the...
We've cultivated garlic as a species for six thousand years...
...so when you find yourself wondering when is the perfect moment to harvest your garlic, know you are not the first person to wonder this.
In truth, the 'perfect moment' is up to a week and sometimes more, depending on the weather.
Here in the Northeast, mid-July, that 'moment' is just about...now :)
Here is the one consideration to look for, demystifying the predicament:
Wait for at least two or three bottom leaves to turn brown before you harvest your garlic.
Each of the leaves above ground have a corresponding 'wrapper' around each bulb, becoming papery when cured. Once one third to one half of the leaves are brown and brittle, you have strong bulb wrappers awaiting you and your garlic is truly ready to harvest.
Nutrient deficiency or nearing maturity? If your leaves are fully brown, from tip to stalk and it's July, your garlic is almost ready to harvest.
Our gardens are a lush jungle in the hot, hot sun as baby birds learn to fly across the fields and our dogs find respite under zucchini leaf umbrellas.
As we harvest heads of lettuce, rows of beets, pull out peas and feed bolting cilantro to the chickens, we're sowing seeds so the abundance doesn't stop. Our season is short, so we've got to make the most of it! Succession sowing is the genius, seamless transition of one crop to the next, amplifying your abundance all season long.
In July, following our harvest of peas, carrots, beets, garlic and lettuce, here is what we are succession sowing, between dips in the pond:
You have so many options!
The good news: Greens don't require tons of fertility, so don't hesitate to plant lettuce where you just harvested lettuce.
The bad news: not all greens thrive in the heat, so be sure you're planting those that will. Nonetheless, options abound:
Garlic is one of our favorite crops to grow. Delicious in every season and marvelously medicinal, garlic is also easy to grow. If I had to pick only a handful of crops to grow each season, garlic would always be one. Always.
The two most common reasons we harvest small bulbs are nutrient deficiency and weed pressure.
Here are easy ways to ensure you have abundant nutrients and manageable weeds to optimize your garlic harvest this season.
Garlic is a heavy feeder, requiring lots of nutrients to grow large and store long.
Here are the best times and ways to ensure your garlic has full access to abundant nutrients:
- Add rich fertility when you prepare your soil to plant in fall. We love to add mature compost, worm castings, Neptune's Harvest crab & lobster crumble.
- Mulch with deciduous leaves in fall, spring, or both. Just make sure you put them through a chipper/shredder first, especially in fall, so you don't inhibit the...
Tomatoes love basil.
Kale loves dill.
Is it really that simple?
Yes and no.
Companion planting is the art of planting your garden so everything will thrive in their neighbor's company.
Here is the bottom line: diversity is essential for a healthy, gorgeous garden.
And the more the merrier: more species, more varieties, more flowers, more insects, more joy.
Our insectary mix, full of diversity delicious for countless species.
What makes a good companion plant? Here are the three characteristics I consider when pairing companion plants, followed by my four go-to companion plants for any garden.
Tall plants can act as a living trellis for climbing crops. For example, pole beans grow marvelously up sunflowers and corn.
Lettuce and other leaf crops thrive in the shade of taller plants in summer.
Tall crops often create shade in your garden, as well. Limit the shade they make by planting tall crops north/south...
⭐️ love what you sow ⭐️
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