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Stinky Replies (Letters to the Editor)

How was your Thanksgiving?
Steve Paull

Our farm is located in the North Hills of Oakley, Utah, about 20 miles east of Park City in the Kamas Valley. It's a fairly small operation of only 20 acres and we grow mostly hay, but I have been working for the last 5 years growing gourmet garlic. Thus I have 14 beds this year that were planted in October. Part of the planting process entails covering the beds with a hay mulch which, among other things, protects the garlic from the cold of winter.

The weather has been really cold for this time of year. We had -4 degrees one night, and there is also over a foot of snow on the ground. This pushes animals out of the mountains and into the valleys, where they have to compete with human space for their food.

Elk have been hitting our place, and especially the garlic beds. They are after the hay mulch that covers the beds under the snow. As protection against them, I covered most of the beds with field fence and plastic 7' mesh fence, but I didn't have enough and didn't tie it together. Thus the elk just lift it up and move it aside to get at the hay. This has happened three times so far, and I have had to replenish the hay and scrounge more fencing to try to keep them out. At one time, I had over 30 bales of hay on our flat bed trailer, but they just clambered aboard and feasted. I covered the last four bales in an attempt to save something and tied it down with heavy rope - but they still got it. Elk are very persistent.

Thanksgiving day dawned clear and bright. I strolled outside with a cup of coffee, perused the damage done by the elk and put together plans for my next step. While Thanksgiving dinner was a-cookin', I worked in the garden replenishing the hay mulch and recovering the beds with fencing. I didn't quite get it done by dinner time so procrastinated, thinking I'd work on it after dinner. (Yeh, right! How does one gorge oneself on Thanksgiving dinner and then proceed to dress up for the cold and leave a warm fire to go outside?)

About 10:00 p.m. I get up and go outside to check on the garden. I hear the eerie cry of an elk, other elk answer this first one, and I shine my powerful flashlight around the fields below. Nothing! But their cries come from above our tipi in the hills, and I know they are on the move and coming down. My first thoughts are of the fire inside, but I know that if I don't finish the job of tying the fence netting together, all the work I did today will be for naught and the new layer of hay mulch will be eaten.

I follow the circle of light down the path to the garlic beds. The dog runs ahead excitedly, but then stops and begins to bark into the darkness. I shine my light to the east - and there they are!

I grab some hay bale twine that is hanging from fence posts and commence tying the mesh fencing together. As I work away on my hands and knees, Grizzly growls into the darkness. The elk continue to discuss things as they await the departure of this idiot who is crawling around the garden in the midst of winter in the dead of night with a flashlight.

By midnight I finish and gather my gloves and other small tools. I shine my light around hoping to see a splendiferous job, but I hardly feel confident in my puny effort compared to what I know is coming.

It's Thanksgiving, 1994. We didn't plan on 140 uninvited guests! At least we didn't have to serve them turkey, but I am getting tired of serving them hay.

Notes from a Garlic Farmer

Ron Bennett

Hi G.S.F. Growers!

My seed for my 1995 crop is planted as of October 13, and I estimate 13,000 seed in at my 32" row spacing, which allows me to cultivate with my rotovator most successfully from the tractor seat.

Some resulting information on the test results on my '94 crop. My soil varies in soil type from one side of the field to the other, and the heavy soil type on the west end of the field produces my best garlic. But none of the test varieties were growing in that part of my garlic field. For some reason, on my farm I have not yet found hardneck strains that will size up like the softneck strains. I have planted some of all the strains in the test group again this fall on a new site. It is virgin ground for garlic on my farm, and of a heavy soil type compared to soils of my '94 site.

Interest in garlic growing and eating is very good. I stress to all my grower seed buyers the importance of weed control in the success of growing garlic. I think information on storing garlic for a longer time is needed for the buyers of eating garlic.

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