And they’re off! As the bitter cold of November nights nears, it’s time to get those overwinter crops and last minute harvests in.
As is storing up wood for December and January wasn’t enough, this time of year brings with it all sorts of preparations for next spring. And even though it’s still quite warm out in the Ozarks, those chilly cold-snaps aren’t going to give us much time or warning this year.
The above picture is a couple of my grocery store cloves that I grew this year. The bundle has been hanging in my house for months with one purpose, survive until planting time. Even though I planted garlic in the spring last year, I’m hoping for better yield and bigger bulbs by overwintering my garlic this year. In short, that means getting it in the ground now so that it can start a stalk and then go dormant for the cold months. This allows a LOT of extra growing time, and in general it’s how garlic is done.
We are supposed to be getting rain this week, and hopefully a lot of it. It has been a very dry September here, and some showers would be nice. My tilled garden sits as a thick pile of dust amidst the overgrown weeds all around it. Today was the day. I had a ton to do and precious little time.
I even took video of the process, which I might use later.
In short, my 1/10th acre garden got it’s fall overhaul today. I raked up three furrows and several planting beds. Almost 2/3 of the garden was reserved for wheat, which will also overwinter.
Have you thought about planting wheat? Here’s a quick run-down of the numbers since nobody else on the internet wants to make it simple. I sowed 10 pounds of wheat berries on around 1/15th of an acre, which is a bit much, but oh well. I just scattered them by hand and then ran a metal rake over the whole area. Here’s the numbers. One pound of wheat berries (the seeds are called berries, just go with it) should yield up to a bushel of grain next summer. A bushel is sixty pounds! So basically, each plant makes 60-100 seeds. That’s a pretty darn good return on investment.
Now, the birds are surely going to get some of my seeds. Not all of them are going to germinate. Some will die over the winter, etc. etc. etc. But based on some quick numbers, my maximum yield should be between 300 to 600 pounds of hard red wheat next year. Personally, I’d go bonkers if I managed to squeeze a hundred pounds, and that would make the effort more than worth it.
Not only that, wheat makes a fine straw when separated from the seed heads, and that can be used to mulch the rest of my garden, protecting it from unwanted free-loading weeds. I haven’t run the numbers on how many bales it will produce, but I don’t have a bailer anyway. It is true that one pound of wheat is approximately 11,000 – 18,000 seeds, so in sowing over 150,000 plants, I’m sure that the 2-3 foot stalks should make a sufficient amount of wheat straw after harvest.
The rows that I cut are for alliums (the onion genus). I’m hoping to multiply the garlic that I grew from grocery store cloves this year. I’m also planting hard-neck garlics. I have one random variety that was sown today, and a Persian Star variety on its way here. The primary goal is to have a perpetual and lasting supply of tasty garlic each year, but my smaller softnecks should produce enough this year that I can sell a few at the market. In total, I’ll have about 90ft of garlic row in the garden. I also have some leek from the neighbors that will make a third row of alliums, just as an experiment to see if they will overwinter here.
In the other third of the big garden, I’ll be doing some fast crops before winter gets here, and then leaving the ground fallow until spring, when I hope to plant my next “normal” garden next year. Sunflowers will follow the wheat field. I learned a lot this year, and I’ll be planting the crops that did best again, along with a couple experimentals.
In the meantime, this smaller garden plot will be ground zero for trying to establish some permanent beds. As for the crops I’ll be growing into the freezing months? Daikon radish, which I’m already using as a microgreen, so I have lots of good seeds. I’m also going to try some sugar beets, both for a baby-green experiment and possibly also for refining and simply eating. I might burn up the rest of my kale seeds from this year as well, and perhaps try some other cold-natured brassicas. Hopefully I’ll be finishing those beds and sowing seeds tomorrow night.
In short, I did a ton of work today until I was stopped by the sky going dark. All garlics and leeks are down save for the Persian Stars, which should be in the mailbox soon. The wheat has been sown, a touch dense but that should make up for losses. Most of the beds have been raked up, and they are looking pretty decent. After the beets and radishes are done, I’ll likely be adding compost and biochar to the soil there, so experiments all winter, even in a fallow field.
And next year? We do it all again, but move everything over a bit so that different things are growing on the soil. Gardening is hard work, but it’s also starting to turn into a fun project, if I can just keep after those pesky weeds and continue to improve my soil through hard work. After I cleared the weed patch, for instance. I left all the roots in the soil, so the earthworms will have a nice snack come spring-time. I’m hoping to attract thousands of them. A lot of the biomass grown on the site this year was recycled into the ground.
Now that I’m thinking about it, I totally forgot to harvest my dill before tilling. Oh well, there’s always next year.
Sorry for the weird and off-the-cuff post, but I wanted to say something, and the blog seemed like the proper length media to do so. I took some pics today also that are posted on Instagram, check me out @writefarmlive.