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Cover Crops for Garlic

 
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Hello,
I am getting ready to plant garlic here in Brisbane Australia and I am thinking about using cowpea to suppress the weeds around my garlic crop.  I understand that legumes are not a good companion for garlic because garlic gives off a compound called "ajoene" which can inhibit legume growth.  I was wondering if the planting of legumes will do anything to affect the garlic or is it just that the garlic can affect the legume?  The legume (cowpea) is simply there to suppress weeds and if it is not growing to its maximum potential then I am not too concerned, it will just be dug into the soil.  If the growth of the garlic is affected by legume then that would be a problem.

Has anybody used legumes to suppress weeds around garlic?

Many thanks
Matt
 
pollinator
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Location: Gulf Islands, Canada
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I think the garlic-legume interaction is pretty rare and most other good cover crops should be OK with garlic. I've heard of people planting garlic in the gaps of their flowerbeds and it turns out fine.
 
gardener
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Location: Longbranch, WA
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I don't know your weather that well but it seems like a few months too early for planting garlic. We usually plant it in the fall so that it grows roots during the winter and is ready to develop during the spring and early summer.  If the cow peas will grow for you this time of year then get them started and when the time comes to plant garlic cut them flush with the ground and plant then put the residue on top as a mulch. I don't have any knowledge of the cover crop having an adverse effect on the garlic. But it defiantly has a positive effect on the soil organisms that will support the growth of the garlic.
 
Matt Bris
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yes thanks for the replies.

Garlic is not due for planting till late march but I was planning on planting the cowpea shortly (in the next month) as the beds are ready and will start filling up with weeds shortly.  As you said, I can trim back the cowpea when I plant the garlic as required.  I have grown cowpea before and it is a very good weed suppressor.

Here is the link to the info about Alliums affecting legumes - https://luv2garden.com/leeks_companions.html
but it appears they are not considered good companions due to the affects of the Alliums (garlic) on the legume and not the other way around.
 
pollinator
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Location: Alekovo near Svishtov, Bulgaria
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We're opposite side of the world from you, but we heavily planted our maincrop garlic in November and December just before it got REALLY cold, and mulched very heavily (4-6 inches) with autumn leaves and straw.  They started coming up very nicely in the warm weather before the snow which was the idea.  We will sow kale seeds between some rows just before the last frost and then plant our cabbage seedlings in the remaining spaces as soon as it warms up - this has worked well for us the past couple of years and we haven't had to do much more than pull out the odd determined weed that has appeared and both the greens and the garlic have done very well. We also sow field cabbage and kale (seeds) as fodder crops after the frosts and again interplant with garlic which has also been very successful. We've also somehow managed to establish a few "perennial" clumps of garlic in our orchard where I have simply dumped some damaged/soft cloves at various times - hopefully these are doing some good as they don't appear to be doing anything negative to the other plants in the orchard :-) - perhaps I need to dig them up this year and see what the bulbs are like.

We get through a lot of garlic as we use it as part of our worming mixture for our livestock (pigs, chooks, sheep, ducks, geese) and 4 dogs, as well as loads of culinary uses of course. We planted 1000 garlic before Christmas and will probably plant the same again in late spring or early summer.
 
Matt Bris
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Hi Nick I have been building my garlic stock over the last 4 years, I hope to plant around 600 decent size cloves this year.  I live in subtropical Australia, I get no frost and rainfall of about 1400mm per year. This isn't really garlic country, however there are 2 varieties that have been developed to work around here.  We plant late March (Autumn) and harvest at the start of spring (September) here, so it only takes about 5 to 5.5 months to grow here.  I suspect this is a lot different to what is done in more common, colder garlic growing areas (I think I read somewhere it takes about 9 months to grow generally).  Unfortunately weeds also grow fast here.

This is my first year experimenting with living mulch around the garlic, Im hoping it will be successful because it takes me a lot of time to mulch the garden beds by hand.  I am going to try cowpeas and nasturtiums.  Both will thrive and be quite dense
 
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Location: Northern michigan
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I also hear garlic it's a very good tick barrier I have yet to test this theory for myself but ticks are a problem around here I guess there have been some studies on eating more garlic making bugs like mosquitoes  to leave you alone by like 30% bite reduction or something like that again it was an article I read a long time ago
 
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