Here are the first few dozen rows. You can see how we shape the beds with a special tractor attachment. If you are building your own raised beds by hand ensure they are FLAT on the top. Crowned beds force the plants on the lower sides to compete with the rows in the higher centre part. This produces taller plants with smaller bulbs. Keep them happy with at least 6-8 inches of space each way between seed cloves and keep the surface FLAT.
We have over half an acre of this 6 mil plastic. It eliminates 90% of the weeding (we only need to pick the stragler weeds that grow around the garlic stem through the planting hole) it sheds winter rain so the beds don’t get flattened over the winter and the soil isn’t rinsed of all the vital water-soluble nutrients.
The reverse side of this plastic is white. We’ve tried facing both sides up, but the black side is far better. It retains the sun’s heat and helps warm the soil.
Here’s the early purple stripes poking their leaves up about five weeks after planting. Our beds are 40 inches across on the top. The rows are 12 inches apart with 8 inches of spacing along the rows. This is our optimal spacing pattern after 10 years of trying all kinds of different ideas. The plants seem happy (stressed plants that are crowded will shoot for the sun, become spindly and produce small bulbs.)
Notice we cover every square inch of the garlic field including the paths. We weigh the sheets down with soil, but this further reduces weeds and denies the hated click beetle and place to call home. The beetle larvae (wire worm) is our biggest threat. This system of crop cover really reduces the wire worm troubles.