garlic

Planting Garlic

The garlic cloves are beautifully arranged for planting

One of the students’ favorite fall-time activities on the Rural Studio Farm is planting garlic.

It is important not to plant the garlic too early, as this makes it more vulnerable to disease and damage from rodents, and not too late either, or else the roots won’t have time to establish themselves before winter. Here in Newbern, the farm team plants our garlic in mid-November. Fall-planted garlic has larger yields than spring-planted garlic.

First, the students split each individual clove of garlic from the heads that were saved from our own garlic harvest back in June. It is important to not bruise the cloves from rough handling and to keep as much of the papery outer coating intact as possible, as it protects the cloves from rotting. Then, all the cloves are placed out in their proper spacing (six inches) before burying them under about one to two inches of soil.

Finally, the students mulched over the top of the newly planted cloves with several inches of hay. The new garlic shoots will push their way through the mulch while weeds are suppressed and moisture is preserved.

Dog Days of Summer

The long, hot, busy summer on the Rural Studio Farm is finally starting to wind down toward autumn.

A student uses an oscillating hoe to weed between rows of pinkeye purple hull peas

With several of our recent graduates once again spending their summers here in Hale County, we have been experimenting with the timing and varieties for multiple crop cycles of summer favorites: tomatoes, squash, eggplant, sweet corn, and cherry tomatoes. The Sun Gold cherry tomatoes have been the biggest hit of the summer!

We’ve been able to provide fresh produce for those students working over the summer (with extra to be preserved for the future) and still have some fresh for the students whose semester has just begun. We have also harvested mountains of pinkeye purple hull peas, garlic, onions, zucchini, peppers, melons, butternut squash, and many leafy brassicas.

This summer we added sweet corn and sweet potatoes to the crop rotation (more on these in future posts). The fresh sweet corn was a big success with two crops of fresh juicy corn. The sweet potatoes have also proven to be a great choice because we have been growing them in the greenhouse where few other crops are able to thrive during the long hot summers. They have performed so well that there is no longer any room to walk!

A long shot of the sea of sweet potato vines that has blanketed the inside of the greenhouse in palmate leaves

A Long and Productive Summer

It’s been a long, sweaty summer, and even with continued help from some of the teaching faculty (Steve, Emily, Chelsea, Mary, and Xavier), our farm manager Eric has been very busy.

Eight harvest tubs are arranged, each with its own crop: red mini bells, mini eggplant, jalapenos, orange mini bells, Asian eggplant, tomatoes, yellow mini bells, and okra

We made several large harvests of commodities that went into long-term storage: garlic, onions, butternut squash, and potatoes. For every one pound of seed potatoes that Eric planted back in February, we harvested 14.5 pounds of fresh, organic potatoes back, which is a great return.

Many of the summertime crops, such as beans and squash, have also been very productive, with many still yielding, like tomatoes, mini bell peppers, mini eggplant, Asian eggplant, and okra.

With autumn just around the corner, our long-term crops of peanuts, parsnips, and leeks are continuing to develop and grow.

With the return of students, we have just begun to harvest our edible summer cover crop of pinkeye purple hull peas.

And finally, the perennials and flowers that Eric planted earlier in the spring, like asparagus, have been very productive.