Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Garlic, herbs and compost diving dinner

Jay and I put our garden to rest for the year. We spent a beautiful October day in our community garden preparing a bed to plant garlic and harvesting the last of the herbs.

Planting garlic
Last week I prepared a large piece of cardboard according to a wonderful schematic that I learned during my garlic class a few weeks ago. The piece of cardboard was conveniently the width of the bed where I wanted to plant garlic, and I measured out and cut holes in a alternating pattern which facilitated making sure the garlic cloves were spaced evenly.

Practically speaking, however, we found ourselves picking the cardboard up to dig a hole or place the clove and we finally decided that a string stretched the length of the bed with marks at the appropriate spaces would be easier to work with.

I hunted down some bale twine (it's lying all over the garden) and grabbed a black magic marker and tape measure that I always keep in my car and we quickly made a planting guide. Our garlic is five inches apart in rows (I split the difference between the recommended four to six inches), rows six inches from one another.

This year we planted six different types of garlic. I bought four new seed stock, and planted seed stock from two varieties we grew this year. We buried the whole thing in hay and it's now nice to think that something wonderful and green will come up early next spring.

Harvesting herbs
We also harvested a little lavender, most of the rosemary stems, and all of the anise hyssop, and  buried the whole thing in a heavy layer of hay mulch to keep it from freezing and thawing next spring. I have not had much luck overwintering Rosemary indoors or lavender outdoors, and am hoping that this helps. I am pretty sure the winter will kill the rosemary but the lavender has a fighting chance. The herbs went into the dehydrator, and Jay made a tea out of the anise hyssop after dinner. Absolutely aromatic and wonderful.

Compost diving for dinner
When I dropped things off in the compost pile I found a stalk of brussels sprouts. The brussels sprouts were small, I'm sure that's why a gardener threw it away. But what that Gardner did not know is my delicious recipe for cabbage soup that also can use brussels sprout plant leaves. Here's a link to that recipe in case you have cabbage or brussels sprouts that you want to cook up. We made it for dinner. Delicious.


  1. From my friend Renee.

    Hey Josh,
    I, too, have had problems in the past overwintering rosemary indoors and lavender outdoors. I seem to be having more success the last couple years. Here’s what I do:
    • Give the rosemary more water and food than you would think it needs. I think the dry indoor air in winter really takes a toll on all of those little rosemary leaves. I water more frequently and make sure the volume adds up to significantly more than my past attempts.
    • Layer stones or broken clay pot shards around the base of the lavender. This is a tip my sister-in-law gave me. The rocks absorb the heat of the sun in spring and keep the ground under them a more moderate temperature, thus protecting the roots from the worst of the freeze-thaw cycle. Simple, but it’s been working! I’m on my 3rd or 4th winter now with the same plants.

  2. I've never had much trouble overwintering lavender. You can have a piece of my plant if you'd like. Rosemary is another matter.

    Do you think it's too late to chop off the tops of my brussels sprouts? Those little guys just aren't getting very big. I've never had this problem before. I wonder if I fertilized at the wrong time.