Incredible stretch of warm, sunny weather. Our rainfall this month is only about 30% of normal so I actually had to water a bed of bulbils I was planting this afternoon. As I write this Hurricane Patricia, a phenomenal Force 5 storm is slamming into Mexico. That pool of warm Pacific water that extends from Alaska to the equator is causing this bizarre weather. Mexico suffers through the worst hurricane in human history and we get ideal gardening weather. Seems a little sobering and takes the joy out of this day.
Our late Spanish crop wasn’t planted will early July and we didn’t expect much more that scallions but here it is in late October and we have hundreds of apple sized, round bulbs drying inside our long greenhouse. Amazing size for this late in the season up at this northern latitude.
Here is our last row of Spanish onions still in the ground. We are pushing our luck, but if this mild weather holds they might size up a tad more. Notice the lush green mustard plants to the left They are filling the paths of our garlic beds nicely. They are a soil cleanser and will stay there until harvest next summer.
These are garlic rounds (the result of planting bulbils late in the winter). Notice the wuite porcelains and the darker purples. We separate them by variety and plant in separate marked beds. This year we are getting them all in early (October) and we’ve increased the spacing so we hope more grow into small, segmented bulbs by next summer.
These are the purple bulbils ready for planting selection. We will take the largest and sow them in long raised beds, allowing 2-3 inches between bulbil. These should all produce small, segmented bulbs next summer. It takes another year for those small cloves to grow into useful (and vigorous) market garlic.
These are the porcelain bulbils. We will select the largest and plant 2-3 thousand of the best for nexdt years rounds.
Yup, that’s a hoe leaning against a stake. Just finished weeding three long rows and its only October 17 for heaven’s sake! Notice the green strips of mustard seed sprouting nicely in this mild weather. Although the weeds will die off with the first heavy frost I don’t want their roots competing with the garlic in this crucial first month. I want the garlic roots to grow as quickly as possible and they really don’t like competition.
Here’s another view looking south across the long raised beds. That patch of green in the foreground is mainly mustard. The 3 inch garlic shoots are starting to show more prominently now. It’s been about 3 weeks from planting for the majority of them.
30,000+ garlic plants are in the ground. John’s disc hiller produced perfect raised beds that should keep the roots out of standing water all winter. The soil received more Net Zero Compost prior to planting so the soil is nutrient rich, for now…
Notice the light green of our mustard seeds popping up in the rows between the raised beds. The first beds were planted Sept 23-24 and the mustard is more obvious. These little soil purifiers are growing quickly and more pictures will be posted in the upcoming weeks.
With all the market garlic planted we can turn our attention to planting the rounds, 1st year bulbs and bulbils that will eventually become market garlic within the next two years.
Of course, this October has been warm and the weeds and volunteer veggies are also growing quickly. I spent an hour this morning pulling potatoes, corn and squash plants, all remnants of previous plantings.
There are many coyote tracks across our beds as well. Whenever we work a new patch of ground we attract the farm dogs and chickens as well as the wildlife. Everybody has to check our work out!
Now all we have to do is wait for the results from back east to see how it did in the national contest.
We started these two from seed in early May. We planted them in a small burlap bag of potting soil. The picture below was taken Mid May when the plants were a few weeks old. The bottom picture shows the fencing we had to put around them to keep the chickens from levelling the hills with their scratching.
The weigh-in for the National Giant Pumpkin Contest is tomorrow (Friday) October 2nd, This 375 pounder is one of the also-rans that John grew this year. He had 4 “smalls” that tipped the scales at 280 lbs to just under 400 lbs. The bad boy that is our offical entry will be weighed tomorrow! Stay tuned.
Here’s part of the new acre of ground John has readied for this falls planting. What was pasture a year ago has been repeatedly cultivated over the summer to burn off weeds in the hot sun, reduce predatory insect populations and with more compost from Net Zero produce a crumbly, chocolate cake like texture to the soil.
Here is the disc hiller in action. One pass of the tractor and a raised bed is formed. Our beds are 40 inches acress with 8″ spacing between cloves. That gives us 5 plants in a row. The bed is approximately 6-8 inches high depending on soil conditions.
John’s creative brain dreamed up this dimpler attachment this summer. Once the raised beds are formed he does a second pass with this dimpler and lays down the planting pattern. This makes the whole planting process much more efficient. We can easily plant 1000 cloves an hour including the rake-over to finish. The picture below gives you a better look at the finished pattern.
After a summer of drying out of the sun and with the help of a fan, our seed garlic was nicely primed for popping in September. We have 400 pounds of seed garlic (all varieties included) which should produce enough viable cloves for nearly 30,000 plants. That is not counting the garlic rounds or bulbils which we will discuss later this month.
John is showing how we pop our garlic the day before planting. Notice the small box of bicarbonate of soda sitting on the black seed tray. He is putting the individual popped cloves into the white pail at his feet. We will get 2000 cloves in the pail and after adding enough water to cover the lot and a half cup of soda powder they will sit overnight. The bicarb kills pathogens like bacteria and fungi. We do this for our own seed garlic even though we doubt there are any pathogens to worry about. For seed garlic purchased from a third party- absolutely mandatory. The soaking also helps trigger the cloves to sprout. We need several weeks of good root development between planting and the first frost. You don’t want your dormant cloves to sit in the soil without sprouting. This delays root development and invites rot into the clove.
Here’s John at our nearly empty booth near the end of the Farmer’s Market in White Rock this past Sunday (July 12th, 2015). We had a great time and were kept busy right to the close. In the end we sold nearly 100 pounds of fresh garlic directly to the consumer. It was a blast meeting so many people who paid so much attention to the food they bought.
For the many customers who asked how we grow our garlic, we will be developing a “HOW TO” section to this website over the next few weeks. We will start selling seed garlic next week. We will be at the Abbotsford Farmer’s market on Saturday, July 18th and at the White Rock Market on Sunday, July 19th. See you there!