Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Heads Up everyone! Learn how to identify the leek moth.

Life History of the Leek Moth

There are three flight periods of leek moth per season in Ontario. In Eastern Ontario, the insect can overwinter as an adult moth or as a pupa in various sheltered areas such as buildings, hedges and plant debris; field data collected in Ontario and Quebec have found the same. Adults become active and emerge in the spring, early April, when temperatures reach 9.5°C and mate shortly thereafter. Eggs are laid singly on lower leaf surfaces whenever night temperatures are above 10°C-12°C. Females lay up to 100 eggs over a 3-4-week period. When eggs hatch in approximately a week later, larvae enter leaves to mine tissues (leafminer stage). After several days, larvae move towards the centre of the plant where young leaves are formed. After several weeks of active feeding, larvae climb out onto foliage and spin their cocoons. Pupation lasts about 12 days, depending on weather conditions. Leek moth numbers and associated damage typically increase as the season progresses.

I find it best to start monitoring the garlic patch just before the scapes start to show way down in the in the middle of the plant.  I look for frass, the aftermath that the larvae leaves behind after chewing its way into the plant, I  will seek out  the larvae  and  squish it with my fingers, one gross larvae at a time.  It is best to get as many as you can in the first cycle in April/May in order to reduce the number of  larvae survival to adulthood and avoid as many  eggs laid in the second cycle.  One adult can lay up to 100 eggs!
OMAFRA publication from 2008 One of the first articles written by Jennifer Allen.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, recent article on Leek Moth, 2014.. There are excellent photos of leek moths, larvae, damage and pupae on this website.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Last seedy Saturday to for the season .

This year I have really enjoyed attending Seedy Saturdays as a seed producer. Seedy Saturdays are where gardeners meet to exchange or trade or buy seeds for the upcoming gardening season. It is a way to share unique, open pollinated, heritage and the good old common seeds. Garlic may not be a 'seed' and nor is it generally available at this time of year, but it was publicized for fall ordering. 

The first event I went to was in Picton, and it was  the first time I promoted garlic as planting stock in 'The County' and wow the interesest was great!  I took a friend with me and she  really put herself  out there by doing the 'Hello sniff the garlic powder"  routine with the visitors.  It was the only item for sale at the table and it is a life saviour for some cooks until fresh garlic is available. A shout out to Willow .  If you are ever at the Belleville Farmers Market, please stop by her table and pick up some really good fresh organic sprouts.

Next was Maynooth Seedy Saturday, a lot smaller and less people, but just as wonderful.  Maynooth has a rough landscape with pockets of good growing soil, and it is a 4b growing zone.  Gardeners do quite well there with veggie growing by adapting to a later start in the season. And garlic does great there too.

 Kingston Seedy Saturday, another new show for me and it was interesting.  For the first hour or so no one even looked at my table! I guess I was the new face in town!  But slowly people made their rounds and stopped to talk.  It will take a few years to build a clientele base there. I notice that people do buy from growers they know and trust.  However, gardeners were interested in garlic planting stock either to begin their journey in gardening or to expand what they already grow. And there were a lot of questions about when to plant. I was surprised at how many people didn't know garlic was planted in October (in Ontario). 

It's promising that more people want to know more about garlic! That means more are being grown and eaten right here in Ontario!

One more Seedy Saturday event to go to and it's in Trenton. See poster above.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Attention to all local farmers and interested individuals in the Central Eastern Ontario region.

National Farmers Union local 334 is holding their meeting Monday March 7 in Belleville.  If you are , or would like to be a member, please come on out at 9:45. AGM begins at 10 am.  We will discuss what we have been doing, and what we would like to do.  We cannot do this without you and your ideas, so yes, I am asking you to participate in anyway you can.  

Local 334, Hastings, Prince Edward and Northumberland Counties.
NFU 334
If you are not a NFU member, you need only to show up at 1 pm to enjoy this great speaker.  Watch this video to learn more.
 click here

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Garlic Mulching

Why we mulch our garlic

We protect our  plants from winter's harsh weather with a layer of straw mulch.

Insulate the ground!
The idea of mulching is to insulate the ground once the soil has been exposed to a slow decrease in temperatures  below 0C and to keep it frozen until spring. The mulch will  help in moderating fluctuations in  temperatures by keeping the plants safe from sudden cold snaps or thaws in January, which will often result in the garlic bulbs heaving from the ground.  Often cracks develop right along the row of garlic and expose the cloves and their roots. 
Straw is one of the best mediums to use as its easy to find locally and usually doesn't have many seeds of its own to germinate.Straw will hopefully suppress weeds already present in the soil from germinating in the following spring. I say hopefully because no matter how much mulch I put on the garlic, weeds  find their way to the light and  germinate . Leaves are fine to use too as long as they are shredded.  by chopping the leaves into smaller pieces it will result in less compaction. Compaction is when the leaves form a barrier over the soil and not allow rain thru or clove tips to emerge. 
Timing is critical for mulching in order to safeguard a spring crop like garlic from the vagaries of winter.  I wait until the ground is frozen before I mulch and usually I time it  around the end of November or the beginning of December.  Remember,  the idea is to keep the ground frozen once it is frozen.  This winter has been a little different for us in Central Hastings County.  Winter didn't come until after the end of December. The ground just wasn't freezing up on time.  I did begin with some mulching on November 29th  since the ground was actually frozen for  few days, but promptly thawed again. I covered 9 beds then. Sometime during the  Holidays, we received our first 14 inches  or so of snow over a few days!  Well that is good enough for me to safely continue with mulching. I waited a week or more to allow the ground to freeze under the snow.   I mulch right on top of the snow and use the snow as extra insulation, it has two layers of insulation, one of snow and one of straw. So now the ground should be somewhat frozen and well protected for the rest of the winter.
Over the next week i will keep on chipping away at the frozen straw bale and finish the mulching soon.  
Come spring time, I will remove only some of the straw, usually around end of April or the beginning of May.  I try  to remove part of the thicker clumps and leave an even covering over the garlic.  The garlic will push through fine.  However, walk each bed and check if any leave tips are not able to push thru and i help them out by removing the mulch.  As spring moves into summer, i find that i will have to begin serious weeding.   by the end of June i will have made one pass and possibly even two.  the straw breaks down, blows away or just simply disappears.  Maybe the nesting birds in the fence lines are using straw to build nests.