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.





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