Window Box Garlic

sujewel(z6 NJ)October 21, 2006

Hi All.

My boyfriend built a window box for our garlic. The box measures 14" x 48" x 4.5". Will these dimension suffice in keeping the soil properly warm. The window is south facing and gets light all day long.

Also, I don't have compost, though I will look in the store. Will fertilizer, bone meal, blood meal and wood ashes be enough food for the garlic?


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sujewel(z6 NJ)

OK, just spoke to my boyfriend and we're going out now to get more wood to make the depth 9" - so 14" x 48" x 9". Will these dimesions suffice?

As for mulch, we don't have straw, but I'm taking wood chips from planing wood from our shop. We have two types. Nearly dust and and 1/2 inch long toothpick type chips. Which would you all recommend?

    Bookmark   October 21, 2006 at 5:49PM
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gardenlad(6b KY)

My only concern would be nutrients. Garlic is a heavy feeder, and with that shallow a soil base you might have to fertilize several times once growth starts in the spring.

Bone meal, blood meal, and wood ashes will be sufficient. Mix some in with the soil in the window box, then carefully scratch some in again when growth starts, and again long about May.

How much to use is hard to say. In open ground, I apply them at the rate of one cup each per ten row feet. We could make a case that you have 8 row feet (two rows each 4'long) which would be close enough. Maybe?

As for mulch, I would use the chips rather than the dust, which tends to compact too much. From your description the "chips" sound like what comes off a surface planer. If so, they are perfect as mulch.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2006 at 11:40AM
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sujewel(z6 NJ)

Thank you so much! I didn't even know you replied, guess I forgot to check off the 'email me when someone replies box'. I appreciate your help.

The "chips" DO come from a surface planer! You're good. I will definitely use them.

As for refertilizing in the spring. Not a problem, I'll try your formula. And I will ask my BF, he's good with stuff like that too. Let me ask, should I also use compost again? Or is the bone meal/blood meal/wood ashes enough?

And actually, the height will now be 10.5". It will look awkward because of the way he placed it, but I don't care, as long as my garlic is safe!!!

    Bookmark   October 25, 2006 at 3:37PM
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gardenlad(6b KY)

It never hurts to add compost to anything.

But nutrients are a particular problem with container gardening, because they tend to leech out readily. So the more you can maintain a steady supply the better.

Here's how I prepare my beds. As near as you can replicate this the better off your window box will be.

Two weeks before planting I spread at least 2" of compost. The blood-bone-ash amendments are sprinkled onto that. Then the whole think is tilled in. In May, I side-dress with the amendments, scratching them into the surface.

After harvest, I again spread compost, and then plant a follow-up crop.

You can see how this would be more difficult in a container. To actually replicate it, you would have to remove the soil each time, mix in fresh compost and amendments, and then refill the box. And find something to do with the extra planting mix.

Is it worthwhile doing that? Everyone has to answer that for themselves. When I container grow I use 20-gallon tubs, and there's no way I'm going to replace the whole contents. But with a small window box, I might.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2006 at 7:44AM
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sujewel(z6 NJ)

You're right, that definitely poses a problem. However, I really don't mind removing the excess planting mix after harvest.

As for the nutrients. Would it be a good idea to add compost/blood/bone/ash amendments in February and then again in May? To make certain the garlic gets enough nutrients?

Also, I still haven't planted, do I have to wait two weeks after composting? Because that means I won't be able to plant until November 10th at the earliest. My BF has been busy with work and hasn't finished the second portion of the box.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2006 at 10:42AM
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gardenlad(6b KY)

For no reason except pernicious habit, I like to wait after making massive additions, particularly if I'll be tilling. But it's probably not necessary.

November 10 is certainly not too late to plant your box. My normal target date is Thanksgiving weekend. But I've set cloves as late as January 10, with apparently no ill effects.

Martin, up in frozen Wisconsin, has noted more than once that the latest date you can plant is December 31. He doesn't mean you can't plant after that; only that Jan 1 then becomes early. :>)

In February your garlic should be just about sprouting or getting ready to sprout. So I'd be leery of doing anything that might damage the new shoots. Instead, I'd wait until they were up a couple of inches, so there's no question where they are, and then side-dress if necessary. But, frankly, it shouldn't be.

Keep in mind that most of the nutrients you add now will still be there in February. It's only when the plants start to grow (and the box faces consistent watering cycles) that they'll get used up. And the plants will tell you, by how they look, whether they're suffering any loss.

I know how it is when you try something new. But there's no sense making yourself hyper over this. Garlic is easy to grow, and is very low maintainance.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2006 at 11:22AM
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sujewel(z6 NJ)

Thanks again, glad. I just put in the amendments to my soil this afternoon. Yay. I can't wait to plant.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2006 at 7:37PM
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