At last, it is time to plow the hay field as part of the process to have a garden area suitable for growing garlic. A two-bottom plow was connected to the trusty Ford 3000 and away we went. After some trials and errors, the plow angle was set properly and the soil turned nicely.
The soil was allowed to sit for two weeks to give enough time for the grasses to decompose. During the waiting period, we reviewed the soil test results with the County Extension agent. It was obvious from the results that the hay field was in desperate need of both Phosphorus and Potassium before we could expect any type of production from the garden.
In keeping with growing naturally organic crops, we applied a generous amount of organically sourced nutrients to the soil. Then a two gang disc was used to "chop up" any remaining grasses and mix the nutrients into the soil. This was a straight-forward process where the disc is run at a 15-20 degree angle to the plowed field. The angle allowed low spots to be filled in and high areas lowed. Discing was performed twice, one week apart.
A cover crop of Peaceful Valley Summer Soil Builder Mix (from groworganic.com), mix of cowpeas and buckwheat, was applied to the field in mid-August. The purpose of this crop was to prevent erosion and "fix" nitrogen into the soil. The plants were allowed to grow until most of the plants flowered (30 days). In late September, the cover crop was cut using the disc. Several passes were made to ensure the plants were chopped up and churned into the soil.
Our planting plan has a planting date of October 26. The process outlined above has lead us to a beautiful garden space that is almost ready. The final step is to use the culti-packer to smooth and tamp the soil. The culti-packer was run across the garden in mid-October. Now, we just need to crack the 1100 pounds of garlic we have purchased over the past few weeks.
Tune in next time, as we discuss our cracking and planting process.