Encouraged by the success of hand planted no-till garlic into winter killed sorghum-sudangrass this past season as part of EFAO’s No-Till Vegetable Trials, Ken tried to mechanize the process using a no-till transplanter.

Ken mowed the plot with a sickle bar mower on October 9, 2020, but had a lot of problems with plugging around the transplanter shoe. This is a classic organic no-till problem: you manage to grow enough biomass to control the weeds, but then you have trouble planting through all that residue. To deal with the problem, he flail mowed the plot on October 17, added a row cleaner in front of the big coulter on each transplanter unit, and added a flap on the rear of the transplanter shoe to prevent the cloves from bouncing out randomly.

The RJ transplanter was designed to plant two rows of plugs, not garlic cloves. Ken and Martha offset the two transplanter units so that, by turning around and coming back on the same bed, they achieved four rows per five foot bed. They were aiming for an in-row spacing of five to six inches. Unfortunately, the planting process left a fair amount of bare soil, which does not bode well for good weed control next year. Martha was able to feed both units simultaneously because the creeper gear of tractor enables very low ground speed (0.13 mph).

The plot on the right is the 5’x50′ plot of four rows of garlic planted October 17th. This photo was taken on November 8, 2020.