I just returned home to Toronto when I left directly for Actinolite… near Tweed… near Belleville, to harvest and learn about growing garlic.
While in the area I participated in a “Garlic Mob” where a bunch of people came out to help farmer Ellie harvest her crop. Mennonite garlic has such a pretty looking bulbs…. it smells as garlic should… and it has such a soft white skin, like porcelain. We harvested about 2500 bulbs…
- Pulled it
- Cut off the hairy like roots
- Peeled it
- Cut off part of the green tops
- Graded it
- Bundled it
- Hung it to dry
The drying takes about two weeks and then it is sold. You can eat the green garlic it is just a little strong. Some of the crop will be kept and further dried, then “cracked” (i.e. break up the bulb) and will be planted early October, maybe Thanksgiving weekend. Another way to grow garlic is to allow the garlic scape to turn into “Bulb Bills”. This method will produce many more seeds … like 100s, but can take up to 4 years to develop the garlic.
Garlic plants can be harmed by the Garlic Leek Moth, which seems to be more common when the crop is planted close to the tree line or tall grass. To control means to squish the egg sacks or kill moths. Another pest “Dry Bulb Mite” it can destroy a crop while drying in a barn. To remove means heating the bulb enough to kill the mite but not kill the bulbs ability to germinate… tricky business. Garlic ca also be affected by Physarum which can cause rot of mould in the bulb… not good. To control rotate crops and removed affected plants.
On Ellie’s farm garlic is planted in a 3 year crop rotation to deter pests and maintain the nutrients in the soil.
I also learned that you can’t or shouldn’t be able to grow your own garlic from the garlic that your buy in the grocery store because it has been bleached and radiated so not to germinate on the store shelves. WOW!
A big thank you to Margot who invited Jason and I to be a part of her very first harvest. We were very happy to be there!