Chilly Autumn Days 

It’s hard to believe that it is November already. We have not yet had a frost (though it should be any day now) so I am still picking tomatoes and peppers, not many but just enough for Quarter Acre EATS to make pico de gallo and hot sauce for the Saturday market (just 3 farmers’ markets left in the season). Even though there are still a few productive plants the tomato field looks pretty ghostly right now, dried out plants leaning on stakes with crunchy weeds and split tomatoes rotting here and there. Next week I will start to remove the tomato stakes, twine, and drip tape. I find it a lot easier to remove everything once we have a frost, which kills back most the plant life.

november tomato field

Two weeks ago I planted three varieties of garlic German White, Music, and Chesnok Red. I decided this year to do a small patch just 14 pounds of seed garlic. Since my field gets pretty wet in the spring, I put in some extra effort to encourage drainage. After rototilling the field, I marked off the beds then dug down into the walkways placing that soil on top of the beds.

making garlic bed

After leveling the top of the beds I added a few inches of compost before making three trenches in each bed for the garlic. Next I filled the walkways with about 12 inches of wood chips, after walking on them they compress to around 8 inches or so.

garlic bed prep

To plant the garlic cloves I set each one 6 inches apart from one another, pushing the clove root side down about 2 inches. Then using a bow rake I pulled the compost/ soil from the high side of the trench completely covering the garlic.

planting garlic

The final and very important step is to mulch the garlic beds to prevent weeds and erosion. I put down 6 thick inches of straw but you could also use dried leaves, just don’t use hay as its filled with seeds.

mulched garlic

The next day I planted cover crop, I did a simple mix of red winter wheat, Austrian winter peas, and hairy vetch. After broadcasting the seed I spread about a half a yard of compost throughout the field to add a little fertility, organic matter, and biological activity.

compost cover crop

The timing of both my garlic and cover crop planting was in relation to coming rain storms, which arrived as forecast. The wet weather allowed the seeds to germinate. The cover crop has been growing nicely, the wheat was the first to pop up but the peas and vetch have been getting established as well. I’m hoping the growth will continue and that there will be good soil coverage before the first snowfall but of course it just depends on the weather.

cover crop

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