|Poking through the Vetch and Heartsease is this years garlic.|
I hope to explain in this post about the polyculture in a mono looking crop. In the first instance the young garlic sprouts from where it is planted all by itself. This makes it look for all the world like a monoculture but this is done to give the young sprouts a chance to shine in the early days.
Vetch is sown with the crop and emerges at the end of winter. By early spring the vetch is a danger to the garlic because it shades the young plants (as in the photo above and below).
|The pink specks shown on the roots of this vetch plant are the nodules formed by this legume as a nitrogen store and the loss of the top will release the roots and nitrogen into the soil and feed the garlic.|
The vetch will be back and will produce more nitrogen nodules as Summer blazes but the vetch will serve to shade the garlic and protect the soil till harvest when the tops and the roots will serve to replenish the soil for the next crop.
The situation arises where soil fertility has the opportunity to be greater after the harvest than before the crop is planted - sustainability (the real type)