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A Gardening Log


I always feel like I'm way behind the season at this point. That being said, there is a freeze in the forecast for tomorrow night. The main things that are in the ground, so far, are things that were planted last fall and they have been through much worse. The February deep freeze brought nine inches of snow and a solid week of sub-freezing temps. My expectation was that most (if not all) of what was subjected to such brutal conditions would be finished. Still, I did what I could to protect stuff and ended up pleasantly surprised. The fava beans ere the ones that surprised me the most. Yes, I knew they were somewhat frost hardy but a solid week of no thaw? No way. A few of the plants did get "nuked", but only 20% or so of what I planted, and the remaining plants filled in nicely.

The goal was to get a head start, since I know from last year's experience (Spring of 2020 was my first attempt with favas) that they don't tolerate our hot, humid summers well. That worked and it looks like a good crop will be the result.

The next one that amazed me from the fall planting was garlic (and elephant garlic). Healthiest garlic plants that I've ever seen. In 2019 I traded a guy in Central Arkansas some comfrey roots for garlic. He was starting a commercial garlic farm and had some bulbs that didn't get planted (out of space in his beds). I'm sure that what I got were not best quality, which I was prepared for, but the bulbs were also well sprouted and that forced my hand. They had to be planted and it was way too early in the fall (too many HOT days still ahead). In retrospect, I should have refrigerated the bulbs until fall. Live and learn. Predictably, many of the bulbs that I mistreated died. I thought all of them had. Fast forward to Spring of 2020 and a decent amount of the "dead" garlic sprouted! By Easter Sunday they had risen from the dead (couldn't resist). That ended up being a blessed event in more ways than one. Not only had I not lost all of my "seed" garlic, I also now had the variety that had proved itself to be the most heat tolerant, exactly what I was after. That year's harvest is what was planted last autumn and looks so good today.

Since the February 2021 freeze was supposedly about a 40 year event, I should be able to expect milder winters for some time to come. Climate change may have something to say about that and extremes of all kinds are always possible. In general, I have found that growing food in Western Arkansas is easier in winter than summer. It is easier to protect plants from moderate cold than extreme heat.