I just finished unloading the second truck-full of manure into the raised bed expansion project. I was hoping one more load after this one would do it–but it looks like it’s going to be two. I also need to get about 18 or 19 more landscape blocks to finish the fourth layer of the wall along the backside.
Altogether, the project should come in under $100 total for four loads composted animal bedding, gas to pick them up, and a little layer of landscape fabric I bought in bulk at Tessman’s in Tea, SD. The block was free, and the labor was me. We won’t count those chiropractor and massage therapy appointments. 😉
I could have got plain horse manure free as well, except for intensive labor of both loading and unloading it by hand, but the animal bedding with some straw mixed in is a better medium for planting in than pure horse manure, and the animal bedding from the barn doesn’t have so many weed seeds as a pile of horse manure sitting out in the middle of a paddock. So, that saves some labor on the back end.
I’m in good shape at this point to start planting some garlic on the south side of the bed, below the sage bush. I did put in one elephant garlic “golf ball” (the term I use to describe garlic that doesn’t form a head of cloves, but instead forms a single, enormous clove) in the hole where I removed my pot of rosemary when it started getting too cold at night.
I’ve got a few more of those elephant garlic “golf balls” to put in, plus I’ll plant a number of German White cloves all along the edges of the bed. That might help keep the neighborhood cats out of there, though I’m probably going to have to start sprinkling cayenne along the edges as well to keep them out of their new favorite “litter box.”
I’m not sure if regular garlic ever forms those “golf balls” I’ve described–I’ve never seen them do it, but elephant garlic seems to do it fairly regularly, and those golf balls supposedly form the most enormous heads of garlic the next season, which is why specialty elephant garlic seed stock purveyors (Vito tells me) sell those golf balls at a premium.
A quick look at a Garden Web discussion on the subject tells me that the trigger for garlic to divide is cold, so mild winters might have this effect, and that elephant garlic is particularly susceptible to these non-dividing heads. You can tell they’re going to be the “golf balls” before you dig them because they never form a central flower/seed head (scape).