Here’s a nice shot of our main garlic field as of April 9th, 2016. Keep checking back as we count down to the early purple harvest. Barely 6 weeks to go!!
This year we will be selling local farmer’s markets and we will be selling bulk bags/boxes of garlic this year as well as loose bulbs. We will have prices and points of sale posted by the end of May.
Here is our 5,500 plants in the north field. The paler green rows in the foreground are the early purples. The water logged soil has drained away and the raised beds did their job. Most plants are 24″ ground to tip with some nearing 30″. In the background are the darker porcelains, red rojas, music and Salt Spring Island variety.
Here’s a shot of our 25,000 plant main field. Those tall plants in the foreground are some white mustards growing along the paths. We are harvesting the leaves. A south asian chef is making Saag (a fabulous dish with garlic, onions and spices). She generously shares her divine cooking with us. White mustard is extraordinarily high in minerals.
The garlic beds in the foreground are porcelains, with the purples off in the distance. The porcelians are growing rapidly and will soon catch up and pass the purples. As of today, (April 7th, 2016) our porcelains are 15-18 inches tall, with the purples mainly 22-30 inches high. The stems on both plants are thickening nicely. Al,l the beds are now covered in paper strips with a compost mulch. This will be the last weeding we will do on the beds themselves. It is also the last feeding. We still anticipate the purple harvest to start in the last week in May, with the other varieties coming out of the ground 4-6 weeks later.
The early purple stripes are stretching out to 18 inches! And it is only March 17th. Notice how the papering and composting of nearly a month ago has kept the rows clean of weeds.
Just for comparison, here’s John measuring the porcelains out to just under 12″. At this stage in the spring, the purples are typically 50% larger with more developed leaves and much thicker stems. The porcelains will eventually be the bigger plant but the harvest is 4-6 weeks later. (That’s a small white mustard plant in the foreground. We will reseed that beneficial cover crop again this summer.)
The early purples are now weeded, papered and mulched with Net Zero compost and/or mulch. The rows in the background are up next. They are the later porcelains.
The heavy rains waterlogged a few beds in the north field
Still, the plants look good in John’s raised beds. The majority of the crop is dry so it will be interesting to see how many plants are undersized because of having wet roots.
Tuesday, February 09/16 was over 15 degrees in the warm sun and we managed to complete the weeding on all our main beds. Whew! Next step is to give them a light topping of compost and weed-suppressing paper strips lain between each long row. This should block over three-quarters of all the subsequent weeds between now and the May harvest.
This is the earliest variety of hard-neck we have found and we expect nearly 4 weeks of early sales before the traditional hard-neck varieties come on stream.
Meanwhile our purple bulbils are starting to develop their second and third leaves. We have thousands planted this year and their ability to develop small cloves by August dictates the size of next year’s crop. We expect 4-5 seed-cloves from each new plant.
Greetings everyone! Well, January is almost over but the season has just begun. Hard to believe we expect to start harvesting our early purples in fewer than 100 days. As you can see, our raised beds are covered in weeds after a mild winter. The water logged paths still show a few white mustard plants we used as soil enhancers.
The early purples (shown here) are almost a foot tall with 5 leaves showing in most plants. We started weeding a week ago and expect to have nearly a acre cleaned up by mid February.
Here’s a few beds after a weeding. Much better!
Keep in touch. I’ll be posting regularly from now till the season’s end.
Great example of what happens when a site is not properly prepped before planting. The heavy rains resulted in extensive ponding between several of the raised beds on our smaller North field. The subsoil has a clay pan that we should of either broken up or avoided before building the beds. These rows run east-west and have some low patches where the water accumulates. Next time the rows would drain better running north south.
We have drained the worst away with deeper ditching so I hope we haven’t caused too much damage to the root balls. Standing water produces small garlic. Lesson learned…again.
The purple stripes yielded plump clusters of bulbils this summer from the few hundred plants we left the scapes on through to harvest. Notice the variety of colours, from light tan to a rich purple. Above are a few hundred of the biggest ones ready to plant. I soaked them for two days in water and bicarbonate of soda (to kill pathogens). The soaking also triggers the bulbil to germinate. You don’t want to plant a dry seed in the ground only to have it sit there for days. This time of year we want maximum root development before the frosts hit. The bigger the root-ball the better the chances the plant has of surviving winter.
This raised bed is 150 feet long with three shallow furrows spaced about 8 inches across. The bulbils were hand planted with the pointed tip up and spaced about 2-3 inches apart. The soil is soft and amended with compost and pig manure (done 3 months earlier). I will cover these rows with half inch of fresh compost and then generously water each row as this dry October has the top inches of soil short of moisture. We have about 4000 purple bulbils in the ground now with more going in this week. In early November we will plant several thousand more in our long greenhouse. Lucky them! No Frost.
Here’s a closer shot of the spacing.