Advice for garlic patch

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Lindsaywilkins6
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Hi all,

I'm hoping to plant one or more large garlic patches and sell garlic to help offset our high property taxes. Our land is incredibly rocky as it was once underwater and we have clay soil. I was planning to excavate a section of our lawn into a garden bed. I will fill it with compost and as much native soil as I can sift back in. Does that sound like a decent plan? Would digging down a foot suffice and then uses a broad fork to break up the soil below work or can I go shorter because garlic isn't too deep? That's what I've done in my cut flower bed but this is the first year. I could wait until summer to clear the land (closer to October) or do this sooner and plant another crop until October (squash would be convenient) to start building the soil.

If you have any specific advice on how to get the best first crop of garlic with soil amendments, please let me know. I was planning to use vermicompost. Really hoping to get some big bulbs next year.

Thank you so so much!

Lindsay
Danoost
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It's difficult to give advice without actually being there.

I suggest you cover the rocky area with 3-6 inches of compost without digging out the rocky material. Rocky ground under your finer growing medium poses no threat for no tillers unless you're growing carrots or parsnips.

We've covered up existing hardpacked driveways of straight rock with compost and grow quite successfully in these areas. You're dealing with a less serious situation where you have rock mixed with soil.

After layering compost I'd grow a deep-rooting cover crop of oats, barley, or rye. Squash will get you a monetary return but doesn't have the depth of root you'd get from a cereal cover. Terminating the cover crop will be your only challenge.

At planting time, dump 1 tablespoon of vermicomposting in the hole with the garlic.
Lindsaywilkins6
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Thank you so much for this info! It was so helpful. We cleared our land but we’re dealing with a LOT of braken fern coming up and from what I read, it’s very difficult to get rid of. We are considering making long raised beds instead for the garlic. I’ve run the numbers and it seems feasible. My only concern is about crop rotation. Do I need to crop rotate (not use the beds for two years after growing garlic once)? I know you’ve mentioned it isn’t always necessary but with such a big investment I wanted to get your advice. I can use compost and/or garden blend soil plus vermicompost and mulch as well as plant something else between harvest in mid - July and October. Hopefully that will help. I don’t think it would work for me to crop rotate for such a large amount of space. Thanks in advance!
PeasIntheRain
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Just a quick note that green bracken makes a great mulch (cut it before the brown spores develop) :)
Lindsaywilkins6
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That’s great to know! Partially composted or green? Thank you so much!!
PeasIntheRain
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Re. bracken: I layer it on green without issues. The stems are thicker and a bit more annoying if you're using it on a pathway, but everything breaks down rapidly. Of course, I'm sure it could be added to a compost pile to bulk that up too.

And be grateful for your clay soil: clays are very nutrient rich given that oxygen has not penetrated much or far into the soil. Don't throw away what you have just because it doesn't look like a picture from a garden catalogue :)
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