Nov 19, 2015

Before the Rain

This afternoon we are expecting some rain. This is a wonderful blessing - one that we have not had more than half a dozen times over the last three or four months.

For that reason alone I am glad that I started years ago making sure gardens are well mulched.

Impending rainfall is a terrific motivator for me to complete certain outstanding projects, like making sure bare soil is mulched, gutters are emptied of most of their leaves, compost is taken from the buckets to the compost pile, and so forth.

There is rarely bare soil around here, but the garlic finally got planted a few days ago and had yet to be mulched. This project involved more than simply sticking garlic cloves into the soil.

The garlic garden itself needed to be refurbished. Red raspberry plants had migrated into the soft neck garlic bed, and I decided to let them stay there till the last minute, in order to have a dozen new raspberry plants for free. The last minute came earlier in the week, and I needed to transplant the raspberries as well as add organic matter to the beds and lightly cultivate them. I have kept up with the weeding since recovering from an illness in the middle of summer, so there was very little of that needed.

The beds have flattened a bit over the last few years, so they were barely raised beds at all. That also was addressed.

The ducks' used bedding is a lovely mulch-compost material and it's right next to the garlic garden.

So, here is the quick list of the garlic garden prep:

-Dig up and transplant a dozen raspberry plants
-Dig trenches between the garlic beds, placing the rich soil onto the beds, raising the beds and adding organic matter
-Add organic matter from container garden pots (a mix of coconut coir and compost and vegetable roots)
-Plant the garlic
-Rake out duck bedding material from the duck pen
-Lightly mulch the beds to prevent rain compaction and runoff

I took some video of the beds before and after mulching - I will get that uploaded when the opportunity arises. Those things are usually done after dark.

Later, I'll spread just a tiny bit of wood ash on the beds, and perhaps sprinkle some organic fertilizer since I have some left from the container garden project. Duck manure and compost meet most of our soil fertility needs these days. After the cold sets in, I will mulch more thickly with straw. Leaves are abundant, and they mat down nearly like a thin rubber blanket, causing difficulty in the spring when the garlic starts trying to push up into the light. So we prefer something more like straw, or even wood shavings, for the top thick mulch layer (mostly to keep the temperatures in the soil from fluctuating too quickly and causing heaving).