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.