The Garden Lab – Battle of Garlics

Welcome to the official first part of The Garden Lab! In a series of posts I will be conducting various experiments concerning gardening at home. Goal of each experiment will be stated clearly in the introductory post, data will be collected in a timely manner with photos and updates posted regularly. Closure will be provided at the end of experiment in a final post which will summarize the data and hopefully show us a better and smarter way of gardening at home!

I have come up with the idea of The Garden Lab a short while ago, but I was scared that I actually won’t be able to do any ‘experiments’ since autumn is here and winter is coming. But what two words would a gardener use to describe autumn? GARLIC TIME! And that’s how topic of the first Garden Lab was born.

Even thought many people automatically connect garlic with stinky breath, my dear friend GG – glorious garlic – is truly a fascinating plant. As a natural antibiotic it fights viruses and bacteria, helps fight high blood pressure and is a magnificent antioxidant. As to the stinky breath – you can get rid of it easily by chewing a leaf of parsley or fresh mint. Garlic is a very big part of The Pink Cucumber family life – it appears in our dishes ever day and I myself pop in a raw clove every day to give my body a healthy boost!

It is a garlic battle between beautiful heirloom garlic (Egyptian pink, http://www.livingseeds.co.za/) and garlic X, as I decided to call it – a store bought garlic.3003a

I have planted the heirloom garlic in a bucket the usual way – soil, layer of eggshells, since garlic is a heavy calcium eater, and a nice thick layer of compost, in my case well composted gnu poop.2003

On March 18 I planted nine heirloom garlic cloves in the bucket and on March 19 I added four garlic X cloves – two of which had a head start. It is always good to draw a little sketch, know which of the cloves had a head start, and mark at least one of the plants in the bucket (in this case garlic X is marked with a toothpick).2003b2003c

The cloves will experience the same weather conditions, they are planted in the same depth (approximately 9cm) and now all we have to do is wait for their 5 minutes of fame (actually up to 40 days to germinate and a way way more to actually grow fully).

What I will be monitoring is when the cloves will sprout, how fast they grow (measured on a weekly basis), when do the flowers first appear, and in the end whether they have grown to a full size. Dr Pickled Pink Cucumber will assist me in assessing their taste.

In the end I would like to find out whether it is worth it buying garlic cloves from a respectable grower in terms of price, germination rate, time it takes to grow fully and taste. If we want to be all official, the hypothesis is that the store bought garlic will be more difficult  to grow and will end up smaller with a less strong taste than a heirloom garlic.

Of course we have to take into consideration that these garlics are not the same – the store bought garlic is obviously white, not pink, but still it might be interesting to see how treatment of commercially sold garlic affects its natural ability to grow and reproduce.

I have many ideas for The Garden Lab, most of which (for now) are bound to summer season. As a long term project I hope it will grow and bring answers to interesting and practical questions about gardening at home. If there is any idea of an experiment you want me to try please feel free to share!

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