Soil Temperures

Summer of 2021 has proposed many challenges to garlic growers! With the exceptionally hot summer, plants are threatening to shut down sooner, earlier harvest etc! We have had many emails about garlic shutting down, or early harvest, and some very good results in spite of hot weather. I would like to share with you the secret to why our garlic won’t be harvested until about Aug 15! It’s all about keeping soil temperatures in a low-stress zone where soil moisture is conserved, microbial community underneath (that contribute to soil health) aren’t cremated and therefore healthy garlic! I took soil temps in three very different areas on a very typical 2021 31C summer day. One of the temps is taken from a black soil area of my rain-neglected but faithfully rototilled garden where I am pretending to grow some veggies. For ex, leaf-curling tomatoes, some wilting semi baked-potatoes, crispy-fried peas and corn that is tassling at 3 ft tall and may be fodder for the gophers if they aren’t too picky. The other two temps are taken in our garlic field where we mulch very faithfully, (a hot yr several years ago taught us this expensive lesson) with what we can provide with woodchips and the rest wheat straw. Amazing, cool, moist soil and the picture is worth a 1000 words. Between 18-20C 60-70F are the mulched areas soil temps (and the probe sunk in easily), and the black soil temps were 40C/100F and because it is rototilled, it has that lovely hard-pan down not very far, that if it did ever drop some of that wet stuff from the sky (it’s been so long we kind of forget what it’s like!), it turns into a swimming pool of soup and doesn’t infiltrate down. We do not rototill or “work” our garlic fields-havent for four yrs. Soil health, biological healthy microbial community is what we are trying to support. We love the many emails of beautiful, healthy garlic that others are growing and reaping from our stock! Now, I am a bit surprised even on the U of S site that proposes benefits of mulching and number one is less weeding or weed control. Gulp. We can flatly disagree and weeds are there in abundance, but they pull out so easily in comparison to black soil, and looooong roots with it. The number one benefit of anything shouldn’t be less weeding. Weeds are an indicator of the health of your soil. We see water regulation and conservation as the number one benefit of mulching as water is the most vital nutrient required by plants. Mulch allows the soil temperatures to be in the healthy, low-stress zone. Stressed plants are susceptible to airborne and soilborn diseases. Cremated biology in the soil cannot help you either if they don’t exist. We put up with later spring emergence for the pay off of healthy garlic and decent bulb size on a hot year. In a small plot of garlic, one could pull back all the mulch in April to have it come up 2 wks sooner, and then put it all back as it comes up, but unless you planted it half way to China, it will still come up if you don’t, just a little later, and harvest will still happen. That’s OK.

We will start sending out orders the very end of August.

Our shopping cart has been humming steady and our orders are currently higher than any previous year! Get your order in soon as last year we sold out mid September!

May showers

We got a well-received 1.8″ of rain in May! The garlic is up and growing well! The garlic is all mulched with either woodchips or straw for drought-control, and also to prevent soil temperature swings in the heat of summer that can shut down bulb production. Weeding season has begun, bulbil planting (our FAVORITE time to plant bulbils and this deserves another blog all on its own!) and we are kept very busy these spring days also in working with our honeybee hives, moving the custom heifers daily from paddock to paddock, planting more shelterbelt trees, and hopefully planting a garden before too long here!

Orders for fall are coming in, and we recommend to order early for this fall shipping, as we sold out early September last year!

New products for this year are:

● Nettle Blend Tea (a lovely blend of stinging nettle leaves, rosehips, and a hint of extra dried black garlic) All grown and hand harvested here on our farm.

● Black Garlic cloves in two different sized packages 75 g and 150 g

Harvest

Harvest is in full swing, about 70% complete! Most of you would be complete your harvest in normal garden growing conditions. Our gourmet garlic varieties were harvested in the 1st and 2nd week of August (planted sooner in Sept), and our field garlic (Music and Red Russian) were planted late (too late!) due to the heaps of rain in fall 2019, impossible to get a rototiller in the field, so a planter had to be fabricated, welded and implemented as quickly as possible. Still hand planted, but no tillage. Necessity is the Mother of Invention! Coupled with a cooler dry spring, we were glad for that fall moisture!

Our field garlic is looking real good, and the days and nights are long with going to bed on a different day than we got up! I am thankful for knee pads that save the knees and essential oils that soothe the back during the few hours of night! All our family is out there working together, working hard to get each row off the field and onto the dryer in the shop before nightfall! Temperatures are getting dangerously low at night to risk leaving the garlic outside to cure in a shady spot.

Orders are beginning to be sent out this week! Most of the gourmet garlic is sold out already, but there are a scant few left of some varieties (Red Rezan, which is such a beautiful glazed bulb with high number of cloves, great for pickling or fresh eating). We have limited bulbils available in most varieties. I am not surprised that many growers don’t want to bother with planting bulbils as it is heaps of work with no payback for 4 years, but that is the mission of our business. To provide the customer with a young garlic bulb (even if it is a large bulb). To provide seed that is close to the bulbil generation so that you have garlic for several years to come. Just as we want to retain heifers in our cattle herd to keep our herd young, we plant thousands of bulbils each year and grow them up. That is WHY we love our medium sized seed as it almost always upsizes in well fed soil. A young medium bulb (meaning last year it was a 2nd year bulbil smaller round) is bursting with energy to be a large bulb next year. We spring planted about 2000 medium cloves in a 100% winterkill area this year in a poorer clay, too wet location in the fall) in mid May and reaped a lot of XL bulbs, mostly larges and some mediums. Impressive!

Out to the field we go…have a great day and thank you so much for supporting farm families!!

 

 

 

Weeding and Scape Picking

It felt like my sleeping bag should be out in the garlic field during weeding season, but now that we feel a little more caught up with weeding, we are shifting gears to picking scapes and starting pickling!

There are likely different opinions about cutting scapes vs pulling scapes. The truth is, you will get more length if you carefully pull straight up, which is a benefit for pickling, but we have found that the integrity of the plant is compromised and can flip over. Does this adversely affect the plant? Maybe not, but the poor looking, droopy garlic plant gets my sympathy, and so we either cut or snap our scapes. A load of them were fed to our pigs today! Healthy dewormer!

We are still feeding our garlic compost tea, and the garlic is loving it! Lady bugs are busy, earthworms are all over, mushrooms grow at the base of garlic plants (a healthy sign) and we are happy to have mulched garlic that is enjoying some cooler soil temperatures during the hotter part of summer. We have enjoyed some beautiful timely rains (was super dry in the spring, and thanks to the mulch, the ground didn’t dry out…we JUST were starting to water late June when the sky opened up finally!) May and June combined were about 1″ moisture, and since June 24th, we have had 4.5″ of rain spread out. I feel sorry for most of northern SK, AB who have been inundated with rain and little sunshine.

Orders have been steadily coming in, and several gourmet varieties are getting low in availability, and some sold out already. Once the garlic is harvested and curing started, orders will be sent out–the first week of September hopefully!

Thank you for your support of our small family farm!

Garlic Mulched

Garlic Mulched

How comforting it is to feel moisture under the ground! The 4″ of wood chip mulch was added just after planting in the fall. It has been dry during all of May and most of June, with the odd shower. In the foreground are first year bulbils growing, fall planted of a purple marbled stripe. In the background is clove garlic fall planted. The mulch creates even moisture, but the real benefit is when the heat sets in for summer, keeping soil temperatures in a range that is healthier for garlic.

Late Harvest in Full Swing

Well… in the 10 years of us growing a few acres of garlic, we have had TWO September harvests! A weird year of gardening for most in the prairie provinces but the garlic looks beautiful! A cool, dry spring gave us a slow start this year. We normally would be sending garlic out to you by now, but we are just getting it out of the ground..in the rain! Thank you for your patience with us, and we will do our best to be sending out garlic beginning the 15th of September because of this delay! You should have it in time for fall seeding! We want the garlic well on it’s way curing before it gets sent.

Our mission is to send you young, healthy, robust garlic full of vigor! To fulfill this mission, we go through the painstakingly tedious process of growing a lot of bulbils every year, plant rounds, yield not so large but fat healthy cloves garlic to send you! The FOLLOWING year, you should see an amazing upsizing. That means those medium bulbs with 3 or 4 fat cloves in them should be some amazing large or XL garlic next year for you! Another analogy is, as my husband is a cattle rancher, is like we are selling you young bred heifers and not the 20 year old cow… Many garlic growers may go the easy route and crack bulbs, plant cloves, harvest bulbs, crack bulbs, plant cloves, harvest bulbs…but this cow does pieter out and eventually die!

How does your soil look? Does it smell like sweet awesome dirt? Our goal with compost tea, straw and wood chip mulch, not rototilling is our goal..(getting there slowly for that one as it disturbs the microbial climate in the soil) is to see earthworms, soft soil, a poly culture (did you know garlic does better with some weeds, or weed select for those legumes!), and a healthy fungal climate too…mushrooms! Right next to those mushrooms are growing healthy stalked garlic!

Harvest happening!

The garlic growing companions! Healthy fungus and a few (ok, maybe not just a few) weeds, yes!!

Garlic is Growing!

This year at first posed many challenges, but after a rainy June, things look pretty good! A delayed, cool, and dry spring following a dry fall, meant a delayed emergence, but almost no winterkill noticeable! We have been blessed with warm, but not TOO hot of weather in July so far! We are feeding the garlic with compost tea and soil bugs to help to build a microbial environment that is healthy.

We are expecting a slightly delayed harvest mid August this year and we will be sending out orders beginning the first week of September. We are doing trials with straw and woodchips as mulch on the garlic this year. It looks very promising! Most of the garlic planted is young seed, about 2 to 3 generations from the bulbil, so an upsizing should be expected in your seed you receive from us! (Meaning a medium bulb cracked apart and planted, could yield a large size under ideal growing conditions).

June weeding!!! If you dont use enough straw….you will be weeding forever!

Spring is Here!

The days are getting warmer, the wind is blowing and drying things up! I am still a bit nervous to remove the straw on the garlic,  but if the weather forecast holds as it looks, we will be removing the straw to expose the ground! We plan to slowly add it back onto the garlic to retain a bit more moisture–our trials with that last year proved it successful!

We have exhausted all bulbs available now for spring, so now can put together clove packages of 8 cloves per package for spring planting. These are from med and large bulbs that are either damaged or have one poor clove, so the bulb was culled, and yet has a few plump and very good cloves for planting.

We are heading into harvest shortly! A bit of delayed spring (2 wks later this year) has delayed harvest slightly but the garlic has amazingly caught up! We will be sending out orders beginning Sept 1st. Thank you for your orders! Some things are selling out quickly!

Spring!

Spring has finally sprung! Winter seemed long and cold, but here in Saskatchewan, we can be surprised by nothing. The mulch has been removed and we are awaiting signs of shoots emerging.

Spring planting garlic cloves is an option now, and we have a few Red Russian cloves available for that purpose.

Happy Gardening