Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Its getting warmer.......The spring edition news.

The snow is gone, snow drops are blooming, and there are buds on the trees. There are early greens for our enjoyment growing in the greenhouse and in the cold frames. Spring is here and so the work begins. Yard cleanup, compost piles to turn and horse poop to clean out from paddock. I always believe if I can get started early enough in the spring, and actually get all the chores done before planting, I will never be playing 'catching up' for the rest of the summer. Its another year to try to prove that it can be done!
Falcon and Annie enjoying the warmth.

For those who have been following us will know that we have made many changes over the last 10 years. And so once again Railway Creek Farm is morphing into something new. The veggie production for markets and wholesale will be put on the back burner while the garlic business is redefined, improved and expanded.

I am excited to put all my energy into producing amazing garlic. Several new kinds are in trial and are been tested in our growing conditions and climate and will be available within the next few years if all goes well . We put all new garlic planting stock in a 4-5 year trial before sharing them with you. We want to be sure they are hardy for our region (zone 3), they produce healthy bulbs and they are tasty with a good bulb size. Many factors play into how a garlic will grow each year, and these need to be considered, for examples, drought like last year reduces the size of the bulb and if irrigation is used, there is a potential risk of spreading diseases.

Our most popular kind of porcelain garlic.

The two biggest changes on the farm are the purchases of small equipment and introducing a 5 year crop rotation using 5 half acre plots. Having a tractor on the farm has been a life savior!! I can build a compost pile properly with cow, horse and garden debris as big as I want it to be and turn it as required.
A view of garlic fields and a horse poop pile. 

The first item on the shopping list is a 80 BMO Aggregate Bond Index ETFbushel manure spreader. One that will only spread across a 3 foot wide garlic bed and not waste any precious compost on pathways. The second item is a flail mower to mow the green manures down before I incorporate it into the soil. A flail mower will chop the green stuff into small pieces that will decompose faster as oppose to bush hogs or sickle bar mowers that leave long pieces of green crop to wrap themselves around the tines of the tiller.

The challenge in developing a rotation is what species of plants to sow ! I have short term and long term plans for a 5 year crop rotation. There is the need to build soil, add nitrogen and protect the microscopic ecosystems. Legumes, grains and broadleaves will be used in different combinations incorporating several species in an intercropping system. Its not easy to come up with the right combination of species based on planting time, growth habit, knock down time and decomposition time as each species has its own particular required conditions to thrive in. I think this will be an ongoing experiment.

This summer is not going to look like a typical  summer from the past, it will be one full of challenges,  new ventures and lots of hard work. Anyone interested in hanging out on weekends, please contact me.