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 15ยบC 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.