Small Garlic Gloves & Adding Soil Around Plants

Question:

For the past couple of years, the size of my garlic is getting smaller and smaller. I'm looking to switch to a different type of fertilizer this year. I'm considering 'Manure Tea.' Could you explain what 'Manure Tea' is and how you go about using it?   

Answer:

  • With underground edibles, such as garlic, onions, carrots, beets, etc., you have to be careful with the type of fertilizer that you apply.
  • Frequent feeding with a high nitrogen fertilizer will produce disappointing results. These types of fertilizers produce lush top growth while the underground portion is undersize.
    • Nitrogen is the first number in the fertilizer analysis found on every fertilizer. You'll find this information on the front panel of the packaging. I suspect that this is the cause of your problem with the small or undersize garlic.
  •  Organic type fertilizers and Manure or Compost Tea is ideal for root crops as the nutrient percentages are low. Manure or Compost Tea is simply the nutrient-rich liquid resulting from a container of animal manure or compost and water. It's a favorite fertilizer of organic gardeners.
    • A simple method of making Manure or Compost Tea is as follows. You fill a five-gallon can or larger with one-quart solid material and the balance water.
    • You let it sit for four to six days in a sunny location, stirring the mixture several times. Some gardeners will use burlap or cheesecloth and place the organic matter in it, drawing up the side and tying it up much like a tea bag hence the tea reference.
    • When you're done, drain off the dark liquid and then dilute it with water until it's a light amber color. This liquid is poured around plants as a liquid fertilizer. You can go online and find a more elaborate system or kits available.
  •  So yes, you should consider the Manure Tea this year. Also, I wouldn't be supplementing this with any other type of commercial fertilizer as you may run in the same problems again. 

Question:

We are going to redo our patio this year and will need to raise the soil level about a foot around four ancient and lovely-blooming trumpet vine. How will they tolerate the new conditions?

Answer:

  • Trumpet Vines are an aggressive growing vine, so there is a small possibility that they would be okay. However, I suspect they will struggle for some time and then die, so this is a big gamble that I would not want to take.
  • Plants do not like to be buried deeper than they were initially planted. Raising the soil level is not an option for me.
  • It is not to late to transplant them, so that is one option. I’d do so quickly before it gets warm.
  • I think the most practical option is to install a permanent plant well around each plant. The barrier should extend from the trunk to beyond the drip line. This is where the majority of the roots are located. You can use a variety of materials such as railroad ties, concrete blocks, moss rocks, or a metal grate over them to hold back the soil.