Yesterday was the epitome of a beautiful fall day where we live. As the leaves begin to crumple and the frost lies heavy on the morning world, we are reminded of the closing of this year, but also the potential of next year’s harvest. We are currently working on our tree guilds. With all of our fruiting bushes and trees in the ground, we are working on expanding their rings as the branches expand. Each year, we plant a slightly larger ring of garlic around each tree or bush. This not only helps keep pests away from fruiting plants, but maximizes yield. Planting in a ring makes lots of space, and since we’re planing into an already mulched and cleared area, the garlic crop is well protected and has been very abundant in the past. We had a wonderful garlic crop this year, and have only planted in about a quarter of what we harvested!
After clearing the mulch and weeds away from the outer ring of the tree, we sprinkled some wood ash around. Then we placed the garlic cloves about 6 inches apart around the circle, root side down. The garlic cloves were then covered over with some mulched leaves from our lawn. Then we put cardboard around the outside of the garlic in a ring (sheet composting to choke out the grass as the ring around the tree grows larger) and covered the whole lot with wood chips. We were lucky enough to score a truck load of free poplar wood chips this year, as the hydro company was doing work on our street.
This activity was a great thing for us to share with the children. They really enjoyed getting their hands (and hair as it were) dirty! To me, this is the best way to teach forest gardening…by getting my children involved in the process!