Saturday, July 20, 2019

1 week until harvest!

Its almost harvest time! About 2 - 3 weeks ago, mainly in my area of Hastings county, the scapes were removed from the garlic plants. We do this to allow the nutrient uptake to be utilize in bulb growth rather than forming bulbil sets. Hopefully everyone's garlic is growing well despite the erratic weather we have been getting all across Canada. Despite drought, or floods, or a late spring, garlic will be ready roughly at the same time each year, give or take 5-7 days. But when garlic is ready to harvest there is no dallying! Follow me on Instagram or Facebook to find out when I start to dig!
Porcelains are usually harvested first then followed by rocamboles and purple stripes. To determine the right time to harvest, the bottom 3 to 4 leaves twill turn yellow-brown and the rest of the leaves are still green. Each leaf represents a wrapper around the bulb, so about 5-6 green leaves are the wrappers you want to leave on the bulb for protection for long term storage. If you are planting them in October, then it doesn't matter how many leaf wrappers are on the bulb since they are not going to be kept for a long time.

A bulb just dug from the ground with dirt and leaves still attached.

Once you have the garlic out of the ground, remove as much of the dirt as possible and peel away any loose coverings. Then, bundle them up into bunches from 5 to 20 depending on size of bulbs and tie with string and hang them to cure somewhere dry but with a good airflow. The curing time is around 4 weeks. 

Outer leaves that are dirty are pulled off.

Once dried, remove the stems from the bulb with garden pruners and you may trim up the roots as well if you want to. Be sure the roots are free from dirt, no one likes to have dry soil fall onto their counter top while prepping diner! 

The roots are trimmed and top leaves are trimmed off for convenience. 

I usually keep the loose bulbs in an open airy baskets , mesh bags or horticulture lugs. Fans can be used to displace moist air around the containers if necessary for another week or so before long term storage. Store in a room or cupboard between 15ºC and 18°C and with a moderate humidity. When these two criteria, temperature and humidity fluctuate, then problems may arise such as mold or shoot initiation. 

Once the garlic is out of the ground, wether its form a back yard garden or from a commercial field , its important to rehabilitate the area. I always plant buckwheat right after the harvest to conserve what moisture is still left in the soil and to quickly cover the ground to prevent wind or rain erosion and continue to feed the microbial life within. I only make one pass with the tiller per bed and that is to lightly cover the buckwheat seeds and to knock down larger weed plants.
pic of tilled beds.

Protecting the soil by immediatetly sowing a catch crop.

The topic of cover cropping and land preparation for next years garlic crop will be in a later blog.
Stay on Track with Railway Creek Farm.

Accepting orders after September 1st.

I am offering everyone who places an order over $100 of garlic a random sample of one of my new garlic strains that are transitioning from 4 years of trial to full commercial sales in 2020. You will recieve 2 to 3 bulbs and I hope that you will grow it out in your plot for the harvest year 2020. I would like feed back on how well it grew in your location,  the average bulb size,  as well as your interpretation of flavour and heat rating. I will follow up later in 2020 with each of to see what the results are. I am looking for input to decide what kinds of garlic I should keep and what kinds I should discontinue from growing. I am keen on growing what you, the customer likes the most. This offer will last until I run of of sample bulbs. 3 bulbs per $100 order before shipping costs. 

Please remember, I only ship in Canada and I take PayPal (or e-transfer payments as a last resort). You don't need a PayPal account to pay, just a credit card.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

4 more weeks of growing!

For anyone with garlic, hardneck garlic that is, there are scapes to remove. Here at Railway Creek Farm, I am about half way done 'scaping' Usually the porcelains are done earlier then the rocamboles and purple stripes. The latter two are a bit challenging to remove since the plants are shorter than porcelains and there is quite some back bending involved. However, they should be removed to encourage the growth of larger bulbs. 

Now what to do with all these scapes you ask. My favourite two ways of preparing them are, just throw them in everything I cook that would normally take garlic cloves and garlic scape pesto.  Just remember to remove the pointy tip with scissor just above the light green bulge. That part can be a little tough to chew even when cooked.

I am encouraging you to take some time and have a look at the list of garlic on the website that are available to purchase.

I am offering anyone who orders over $100 of garlic a sample of one of my new garlic varieties that are transitioning from 4 years of trial to full commercial sales in 2020. I would like some feed back on how well it grew in your location if you are planting, what the average bulb size as well as your description of flavour and heat. I will follow up later in 2020 with each of to see what you think. I am looking for input to decide what kinds of garlic I should keep and what kinds I should discontinue from growing. I am keen on growing what you, the customer likes the most. This offer will last until I run of of sample bulbs. 

Please remember, I only ship in Canada and I take PayPale or etransfer payments. You don't need a PayPal account to pay, just a credit card.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

6 more weeks until harvest!

It's mid June now and it's still raining more often than not! The garlic field at Railway Creek Farm is looking great despite all the moisture! I hope your garlic patches are also doing well. By now the plants should be all leafed out and in the more southern parts of Ontario, scapes are forming. The scapes are not showing at all here North of 7. 

With all this rain we are having, not only do we have May flowers finally blooming in June, but the weeds have taken advantage of the few sunny days and exploded into seed already.

Leek moth has not shown itself in the garlic field yet. Maybe the cold winter did most of them in, and maybe the late spring took care of the rest. I'm not making any assumptions, I am still going to be vigilant in my daily walkabout in among the plants, carefully monitoring for them. If I see one, I will squish it.

I just want to remind you all if you want more daily posts of my activities in the garlic patch, or would like to know more about cover cropping/no-till, and other on-farm behind the scenes events, I urge you to check out the Instagram account. Click HERE. For Facebook, click HERE. There you will discover what life is like on a small acreage farm run by a middle age woman.

If you have comments and questions, you can post them on those social media places or send me an email. I encourage feedback and reading your stories about your garlic growing adventures.

Hop on this garlic train with me.


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 10ºC, 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.