Garlic Dibble

We've had some inquiries on growing garlic, from friends' who didn't fair as well growing their own.  We're no experts, so we can only relate what we've done.  One person didn't think they'd planted theirs deep enough.  I mentioned in the comments on the post I wrote on our garlic, that we had made a dibble for planting leeks, that was designed by Eliot Coleman.  Well, we also made a dibble for planting all the garlic, which really speeded the planting process, and it also assured that the cloves were planted at the right depth.  From what we read (kind of averaging everything from all the different authors), we decided to plant our garlic cloves at 6" spacing in 3 rows 6" apart within each planting bed.  Instead of laying out a tape measure, and poking each hole, we decided to make a dibble.  This is it:

garlic dibble
garlic dibble

I didn't plan it out ahead of time.  Our beds were prepared; we had our garlic heads separated into cloves; we had our tape measure out; and we were ready to plant.  Then it hit me that a dibble would speed the process.  What really worked out well was that it literally only took 10 minutes to make it, so I wasn't holding everybody up very long.  I made it all out of scrap.  It's not pretty.  But it sured worked great!

I used an old push-broom handle (which I conveniently had not thrown away) that had broken off at the threads.  It is also conveniently 1" in diameter, the right size for planting garlic cloves.  I didn't have any 2 x 10 scrap, so I scabbed together a 2 X 4 and a 2 x 6, but a 2 x 10 would have been easier.  Then I drilled 3 holes (1"), spaced 6" apart, and 6" from one of the long edges of the board.  I cut the broomstick into 3 pieces, 2 long and 1 short, wrapped them with enough electrical tape that I could jam them into the holes, so they would be tight enough to hold.  They extend 2 1/2" below the board, which is a good planting depth for the garlic.

To use, I merely centered the dibble over the bed, pressed it down until the board touched the soil, lifted it out, and moved to the next set of holes.  By lining up the edge of the dibble with the previous 3 holes, the next 3 were automatically spaced at 6".  This ended up giving me the 3 rows we desired, spaced 6" apart, and the spacing within each row also at 6".  No tape measure necessary!  Rich and Ron followed behind me planting and covering the cloves.  We planted 5 1/2 beds, each about 45' long this way.   It wouldn't take much work to make a lot nicer looking dibble, but this one worked so well for us, I'm sticking with it.

Coleman is one of my favorite gardening authors.  In the above referenced book, chapter 19 is titled "Tools for the Small Farm".  It is a wonderful short essay on his philosophy of tools, which really boils down to "use what works best for you," either by making your own or modifying an existing tool, if you can't find what you need commercially.  He also writes about the "collineal hoe" which he invented.  We have a couple that we got from Johnny's Selected Seeds.  They really make it easier to hoe, because you can stand up straight, instead of hunching over.

There is no "one and only" answer when it comes to gardening.  It really boils down to what works for you.  I'll go into this further in a coming post.

Steve