Monday, August 8, 2016

Preparing for the first garlic festival.

Wow what a summer!   A rough winter has led us into an even rougher summer with a drought and high heat.  We had no more than an inch of rain for all of July.  I kept the drip irrigation working every second  night for 12 hours for a total of 74 hours!  The harvest  took place earlier this year with it ending 2 weeks before the Carp Garlic Festival.  That is a nice change since I have time to actually prepare for it in a relaxed way!

The harvest itself, despite all the water I gave it, still suffered somewhat.  Maybe the high heat and the rise in the UV  is too much for the plants to handle, much like us humans.  I strongly believe the quality of the garlic has been severely compromised this year and I will not be offering any of it as planting stock. I will only be bringing a small selection of porcelains for the weekend festival in Carp as eating garlic.   I will also have the garlic powder that always sells out!

The challenge of being a garlic farmer is like any other crop producer, one can never be sure of what the harvest will be like year to year.  I ask for all your support and patience as I take a step back and recover from this lost.  See you all at the Festival this weekend.
 Your garlic grower, Elly.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Garlic Scapes have escaped!

What can you make with the scapes.  Anything!  Google recipes for scapes and the internet will reveal tons of  ideas.  But I keep things simple.  I use them as I would use any garlic clove,  I put them in everything.  However, my favourite is making the garlic pesto (see recipe below) and freezing them in ice cub trays for winter use.  Most times I add mayonnaise to the pesto and use it as a condiment on hamburgers, salads,  as a topping on baked white fish or chicken, or mixed in with warm salads made with farro or quinoa grains.... the uses are limitless.  

1 pound of scapes chopped up to two  inch pieces 
1.25 cups of parmesan cheese
1 cup of good olive oil
1 table spoon lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste.

place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.  
Pine nuts or sunflower seeds can be added as well.

Use within a week or freeze in ice cube trays until frozen and then bag up.  Will last for 12 months (or less!!) in freezer.

$5.00 pound ready picked.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Why isn't my garlic keeping!

Questions Questions Questions.
Each year our Canadian weather presents a variety of  conditions for growing garlic. And growers have little control over them. They do not have control over El Ninos, cold fronts, winter vortexes. Nor do they have control over heat waves, surprise midsummer cool temperatures, hail and high humidity. Mother Nature is always throwing farmers unpredictable weather patterns, it's too early, it's too late, too much rain or not enough at the right times. Spring drought, summer drought and even fall can suffer from a lack of moisture. Maybe there's some semblance of normal weather at sporadic moments throughout the season, but not enough of it! Certain weather conditions brings on diseases that find their way into the fields and gardens. A cool wet spring might bring on more fusarium or botrytis; a lack of good air flow might acerbate white mold; penicillin, a common storage fungal disease may be present due to high humidity while curing. Oh, lets not forget leek moths, nematodes, cut worms and deer. What all this means is that garlic is subjected to all kinds of natural abuse. Bad weather encourages invasive diseases that are difficult to control especially organically.

Its up to each buyer to be aware of potential diseases and take appropriate action to minimize the devastating consequences. Ensure good air flow around the garlic by removing most of the mulch.  Remove debris from the fields as soon as garlic is harvested, all roots and leaves should be composted, buried or even burned to discourage the spread of diseases. Always rogue out disease plants and bury or burn them right away. I prefer burying the debris in holes I have around the farm and covering them with dirt and i don't use any of it as compost. Clean off as much dirt off the roots and trim some of the leaves from the garlic prior to hanging to dry, this speeds up the drying time. Good air flow in the drying area is also very very important to reduce black spots from developing on the bulbs. Store garlic in a cool and low humidity place. 

Stored garlic should be gone through once a week to remove any that have gone soft.  Open the bulb up and check the cloves.  some cloves may still be fine to use and use them quickly, or if you have many find a suitable way to preserve them.  Freezing, dehydrating and pickling are some options.  Garlic should keep upto 10 months or longer, but not guaranteed depending on the season it was grown in.  Garlic is a crop like any other, subject to weather conditions and diseases and insects. 

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.