Monday, April 15, 2019

Spring 2019

Dear garlic growers, spring is here, and that means garlic will be poking its green tips out from the ground. Where I live in the Hastings County, the garlic has not shown itself yet, but I have seen reports from other growers in some areas of Ontario, garlic is up! For any new growers out there, this is the time to un-mulched your beds if you put down straw or leaf mulch in the fall. I like to remove quite a bit of it to allow the soil to warm up. I did mine this past Saturday, April 13th. I am glad I did remove the straw as there were a lot of still frozen water in patches where the mulch was very thick. Mulching helps to regulate the temperatures under ground at a higher reading while the air temps can be as low as -20 during the winter. Now the air is much warmer as it is spring and the soil temperature is lower than the air and this is the time you want to warm up the soil to give that garlic a chance to grow. I keep the mulch in the path way so that I can replace it to conserve soil moisture if we are experiencing dry spells. I may add the mulch back for weed suppression after I hand cultivate between the rows within the bed. 

One more thing I would like to touch on is the Leek Moth. Once the night temperature reaches 10ยบC, the adult moths will emerge, mate and begin to lay eggs, 80 to 100 on the leaves of garlic and other onion plants over a 3 to 4 week period. After a week or so the eggs will hatch and the little greenish larvae will chew their way into the stem of the garlic and eat their way down, usually, towards the bulb. They will actively eat for about 2 weeks then the larvae will emerge from the plant and spin their cocoons on the underside of garlic leaves. Pupation is 12 days or longer depending on the weather. This second generation will be ready to mate by mid to late June and possible even as late as mid July. Pheromone traps can be place in the fields to monitor the population. I am usually in the patch weeding, and I can observe the damage and establish a rough guess as to the potential damage the garlic will suffer by the second and third generation. To control leek moth is difficult. You can cover the growing beds with floating fabric row covers well anchored down to the soil, or hand pick them off. There is a product called Spinosad that has good results as a natural insecticide. I have not used it yet.

Part of the joy of growing garlic is the hands-on cultivation one experiences while watching the plants grow into nice large bulbs. Removing mulch, hand weeding, and inspecting for leek moths are the most important task one should do in the spring along with roguing out sick looking plants and maybe adding some manure tea to the plants if you think they need a boost. The other joyous parts of growing garlic is harvesting and eating it!

Good luck.

Removing mulch from the garlic beds to allow the sunshine to warm up the soil.

Monday, September 3, 2018

It's time!!

Porcelain cloves waiting to be planted.  

The time has arrived for ordering your planting stock or your eating supply. Please specify for which you are ordering and follow the instructions on the how to order page. 

Once your package arrives, open it up immediately and check all the bulbs for quality. 
 Make sure you dont mix anything up if you ordered more than one kind.
Included in the order will be more instructions for you to read.

Happy Garlic Planting!!


Monday, July 16, 2018

Harvest 2018

I am living the dream of a crazy garlic farmer!! It is harvest time! The crop looks amazing this year! We are on day 4 with over 3000 already dug out. We have a steady supply of helpers and volunteers to make the job easier. Pulling the garlic out from the field is probably the toughest part of the harvest for two reasons. The soil is very dry and hard and the roots of the garlic need to be loosen sometimes with a garden fork before pulling. And it is darn Hot at over 30C ! We got 27 mm of rain on Monday evening, hopefully that will help to loosen the sandy soil. 

We will be posting in the next few weeks what will be available this year on the garlic catalogue page. Prices will be added to each kind of garlic available. There might even be some new kinds on offer!! We will also add an tab at the top to explain how the ordering is done since we don't use on-line shopping cart.

Any of you who already grow garlic from Railway Creek Farm, we hope yours is doing as well as ours. Any questions, please feel free to email me. Also follow us on Facebook and instagram.

Happy garlic harvest.

Mum at 83 and still helping out with garlic harvest.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Spring 2018

Wow! Spring is just around the corner again, and maybe for good this time! I've been thinking about garlic.   I am so happy to announce that there are over 10,000 garlic cloves snugged deep in the ground. The Mulch was removed by April 23rd , and tips are just showing above ground now. A side note: by April 1 in 2017 the garlic was up above the ground by 2 inches!! I am increasing the production of healthy garlic planting stock once again to the amounts that I used grow on the farm, approximately 23,000.  It was nice to scale down for a season to get caught up with many projects that needed to be finished.  Sadly, as a farmer, I did not achieve complete success !  Some projects simply expanded into bigger ones!  Inadvertently,  I created many new projects along the way for 2018!  

I am now experimenting with 25 strains of garlic within the three varieties; porcelain, rocambole and purple stripes. Some new garlic I bought in 2017 will be kept in trials for 3 years until I am sure the planting stock is healthy and will perform well in our Canadian gardens. Many test samples will be sent to the Guelph Agriculture and Food Laboratory to test for any diseases that may develop in the garlic patch or in storage. I am striving to grow a healthy garlic crop that I can confidently ship out to my customers for their pleasure to grow. 

I will not be attending any garlic festivals this year. I will have the catalogue updated with descriptions of each garlic and their prices on the website by September 1, 2018. There will also be an instructions tab on how to order and how to pay. (nope, I still don't have an online shopping cart!)
I am, but one woman in her late 40's determined to grow garlic , chickens and a large vegetable garden! There is nothing more satisfying than spending the day out of doors enjoying the warmth of the sun and working on several jobs at the same time in the hopes of achieving some kind of success at the end of the day. I take pride in what I have accomplish here on the farm in the past 25 years. I am grateful for the wonderful help and dedication my mother, Jean put into growing the gardens with me. I am thankful for my friends who volunteer over the years at garlic harvest time. I am grateful for the piece of land in Hastings County that I am borrowing from the future generation to raise good food for my family, neighbors , garlic aficionados and for the local food bank. I believe in food security for everyone and I therefore grow a row or more of root veggies to donate for our local Food Bank at Central Hasting Support Network. I share food because I can.

One exciting project on the farm this year will be the raising meat birds, only 20 for personal consumption until i worked out my new system. Its been 4 years since I raised chickens and I do miss the flavour of an organic free range roasted chicken! So, I built a moveable chicken coop 4 feet by 10 feet to house the birds. Attached to one end will be a 40 foot run closed in with chicken wire. The coop will be placed at the end of one of the unused garden beds, with a young crop of barley, sorghum, mustard and other plants for the birds to eat. This technique of using a moveable coop on a garden bed is an experiment for me. I did not see the point of building a large structure somewhere in the back yard that will only be used for 10 weeks or less and taking up unnecessary space. I felt that utilizing a garden bed with growing bird-specific plants right where they are housed would be by far an easier and healthier way to raise free range chickens. To find out more of the success, please follow me on instagram and facebook.
Another project I am working on is soil building and soil microbiology preservation. Most everything I learned about soil management in College is almost obsolete. We are destroying the soil food web by over cultivating causing a break down of the interaction between bacteria, fungi, actinomycetes and insects. These are the creatures that essentially make available the nutrients the plants will take up. The plants are healthier and much better at warding off diseases when they are properly nourished. Two main components of building soil are, first to cause as little disturbance to the root zone as possible, and two , always, always keep something growing in the soil. The latter part is where it gets really interesting because I am striving to grow green manures, green cover crops, interplanting all the while growing a harvestable crop! Not the easiest management plan to come up with.

Thats it for now as I need to get back to the gardens. I hope you all do well with your gardens this year and I look forward to hearing about your adventures of growing garlic in your back yard. Please share with me either in email, or post on the face book page any thing you would like about garlic, chickens or veggies or food security, or ask me a question. I will touch base with you in the fall.

Cheers, Elly