Checking out my soil

I have a lovely friend who upon reading of my dilemma with my garlic, sent me an incredible range of garlic to try.  I didn’t even realise we had this many available to us here.   I am really excited to grow these, surely at least one of them will thrive in my garden without wearing an orange spotty decoration upon its leaves.  Rust is so disappointing.

Early Garlic
Early garlic good to go – into great soil!

I have decided to give the garlic their own bed instead of sharing with the onion, so I can spread them out further.  I figure if I improve the airflow I’ll reduce the risk of rust and the bonus will be they will have more space to grow fatter.  It isn’t that I didn’t give them enough room in the old bed, I just want to give them more to reduce the risk of problems this season.  So they will be spending the winter in the pepper bed.  The peppers don’t like to go out into the garden until it is truly warm anyway so they may need to languish in pots for a little longer than normal, but it’ll be fine.

pH Soil Test
I’m happy with this, not too acid at all.

Garlic likes an ever so slightly acidic soil, somewhere between pH 6.5 and 7.0.  They are also a hungry crop.  It needs a good helping of nitrogen, but not too much in one go, or it will be all leaf and not a lot of bulb.  It is also important to make sure there is enough phosphorus from the beginning as this will help with good root development.   It is better to feed it throughout the season but ease up on the nitrogen feed in about late spring.  Then it is good at this stage to make sure it gets enough potassium because this helps with bulb size.

Nitrogen soil test
It is bright but I don’t think it is dayglo surplus. It would seem to be just right for garlic.

A couple of the varieties of garlic my lovely friend gave me need an early start and should have probably been put in a few weeks ago.  Fortunately, we have been having warmer than usual weather so I should get away with popping these early varieties in now.  The warm weather is supposed to carry on into winter and so I have popped the rest of the garlic into the fridge so if nature won’t chill it properly, the fridge can do it.  They can stay there until I need them in about a 6 weeks.  Gosh the shortest day is only six weeks away.  Where has the year gone?

Phosphorus Soil Test
I think this phosphorus level reads adequate which will do for now.

Determined to make my garlic succeed I actually checked my soil.  I can proudly say I have done a great job preparing the soil.   My pH is slightly acidic between 6.5 and 7.0.  The Nitrogen is in the sufficient range, which will be sufficient, the Phosphorus is adequate, which will do.  Finally, the Potassium is sufficient.  These all fall in a healthy place.  I know the garlic is going into ground that has plenty of food for them to be getting on with.

Potassium Soil Test
I’ll take sufficient as a result for Potassium

Sometimes you can throw all sorts of things at the soil and hope for the best, but finding out if you have the right amount of nutrients can give you confidence that your crops will be healthy.  If there aren’t enough, the plants will never be healthy and if there is too much, then this is a real nightmare as it is much harder to sort out an over fertilised garden than it is to bring an under fertilised garden into balance.

So now I know I’ve got it right tomorrow will be a big day – popping in the first of the garlic, the ever so slightly late early garlic.  I can hardly wait.

Come again soon – I think I need to mow again.  Why does my grass grow so fast?

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

14 thoughts on “Checking out my soil

  1. I’m envious of your soil! We are in 4.5ph sand that doesn’t register nutrients except iron. If not for humus building and compost, we’d only be able to grow a few things. Enjoy yours!
    And we LOVE growing garlic so we had to create special beds for it. It was worth it.

    1. We are really blessed with great soil. As it used to be swamp soil it also has an amazing ability to hold water and so during the summer months I’m not a slave to my hose, so long as I water deeply.
      The upside with having to build up your own soil is you know what you have done to it to get it in peak perfection.
      Cheers Sarah : o)

    1. Hi Gene. My lovely friend gave me many varieties to try and 3 of them were earlies that need starting in the warmth of autumn and will be ready 6 weeks earlier than the rest, but will be best used fresh as they don’t keep as well. All of the other varieties like to be grown in the cold of winter so I’ll be planting them out on the shortest day which is only 6 weeks away.
      Cheers Sarah : o)

    1. I hope you had a fabulous garlic harvest. Everyone says it is an easy low maintenance crop – yet when you do run into problems it becomes apparent it is just as fickle as everything else we try to grow.
      Cheers Sarah : o)

  2. Here in the UK we are slowly sliding into spring, my Garlic is ravaged with rust, slugs are eating all my seedlings and it unexpectedly snowed briefly last week. However, you appear t have some cool and very colourful diagnostic kit at your disposal in NZ, I’ve used a PH kit before in my garden. It said green. :-/

    1. Oh dear. Rust in garlic is my nemesis. I did stay on top of it for a wee while while spraying with a fungicide and trimming the affected leaves – but we went away for a few days and it took advantage and was beyond control.

      I hope it isn’t too late to restart the seedlings the slugs and snails have stolen.
      Cheers Sarah : o)

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