PennyGrows

So I decided to learn about farming


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Garlic Farming in Canada

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!

 

 

Margot Garlic

Margot and Jon

Jay Garlic

garlic mob 1

Garlic mob 2Garlic bulb

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Brooklyn Grange – Day 21

My last day on farm was really emotional. There were a few tears shed, by me… and many hugs goodbye from my new friends and fellow interns.

The day was marked with a CSA harvest, farmer’s market, and open farm day.

I don’t know where to begin explaining or documenting what I have learned… there has been so much! I am hoping that the pictures I took will act to recall my memory or maybe my actions will speak the next time I perform a task and I magically know how to do something.

In addition to all that I learned about veggies. I also know that I am not the only one who has chosen to farm to facilitate a possible life change or to mark a milestone. At the Grange I interned with former Google employees, labour lawyers, students and real estate brokers from all around the world… Kuwait, France, Austria, Australia, and other Canadians. Each of them, like me, have their own special story about how they arrived at the farm. They taught me many things too and it wasn’t just about farming. And it might be those lessons that stay with me the longest and will affect my life most significantly.

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Navy Yard farm stand… Farm Manager Matt

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Brooklyn Grange – Day 20

My last early morning harvest day. Up at 4:30… Work by 5:30. Check out the moon!

We harvested lots of veggies for restaurants and food stores today. But I also cleaned and cut back the squash plants and help built an indoor greenhouse to grow mushrooms.

Tomorrow will be my last day.

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Moon over Manhattan

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10 lbs of sweet basil… Smells so good!

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Micogreens… Sold in little pots

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The “build room”. Water the hay or straw. Sterilize it, pack it in bags, inoculate with spores of oyster mushrooms and let grow for 3 to 4 weeks.

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Sterilizer

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Bags ready to go!

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Gwen… Cofounder of the Grange and all round plant/farm/garden/business guru!

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Gwen and I wrapped this room in greenhouse plastic today.

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The Companion

Farmers have long known then benefits of planting marigolds.

The smell of the flowers keeps away insects and small animals but also under ground the root system will repel nematodes (small worms).

The Navy Yard location does not yet plant marigolds, but the Queens location and Roberta’s does.

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The Weeds

So every Monday morning the crew at the farm does a weed walk. Walk the field with a bucket, pull weeds, place them in your bucket and compost them.

Below is sample of a few common weeds are are trying to control. Many are editable and can even be sold
for profit but they spread so quickly that the policy is to pull them!
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Lamb’s Quarter… Wild spinach
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Purslane… Very tasty and popular.
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So popular that I had to put it in twice.
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Quack Grass… Twitch Grass.
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Oak leaf goosefoot


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The Pests

I have seen a lot of bugs over the past month. Few are good. The ones that have to be squished must be stepped on or squished in a leaf. I can’t bare to squish them in my fingers. Ew!!!

Here are some pics. I don’t know all info or even names but it is a good overview of what the farm has to cope with.

Many pests are controlled using Dr. Bronner’s. I like this stuff so much I am gonna bring some home. Dr. B’s is diluted in water and sprayed on plants to rid them of soft bodies pests. Aphids, squash Beatles and white flies. It doesn’t kill the eggs and you need to reapply after rain but it is an organic method of pest control.

Other organic methods would have birds eating the bugs, but Brooklyn Grange Navy Yard is patrolled by two blue tailed hawks and few birds come around… which can be good thing cus birds eat the seeds.

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Horned green caterpillar
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Small milk weed bug. Eats sunflower seeds and milkweed
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Grasshopper
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Black Swallowtail Caterpillar
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Harlequin Cabbage Bug… Stink Bug… Bad bug.
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Dead aphids and white flies.
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Squash Bug Eggs
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Green June Bug
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Lady Bug Larva

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Dr. Bronner’s

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Big Ass Moth

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Bad picture of a very beautiful and graceful hawk that only eats meat… usually doves and pigeons.