A few weeks ago I thought of George Jetson twice. First, when I was giving a green burial lecture via SKYPE, a thoroughly interactive and rich experience. Second, when I strapped on my backpack sprayer to fertilize the garlic.
Sometime during the winter I had this vision of donning my pack, jetting through the rows, and magically greening up the garlic. Tinkerbell like, sprayer wand in hand, I was convinced this was the fertilizing method I'd long been searching for. And it might have been if I'd planted a lot less garlic. But with its four gallon tank and weak stream it would have taken me weeks to get the job done. Because fertilization should optimally cease by mid-May, I knew I would need to find another method.
Liquid fertilizer is easier to apply than side dressing which would require removal of the much coveted straw mulch that is doing such a great job at keeping down the weeds. I use a liquid fish and kelp emulsion, a blend that works well as both a root and foliar feed. As liquid fertilizer is concentrated it needs water for application, so I got back down to basics. I fastened an end sprayer to my garden hose, filled it up with fertilizer, and finished within a day's work.
It's been a cool, wet spring and though the fertilizer gives the garlic a nice boost during its early growth, it didn't actually need the extra water. Next year, I may try pulling back some of the straw after all, and let nature do the work by side dressing with dry kelp before a good and gentle rain.