Spring has sprung...and so has the garlic!
One of our favorite things about garlic is that it’s ALWAYS the first thing to pop up in spring! No matter how often we’ve been through the cycles of the garlic seasons its always reassuring and exciting to see the fields come alive with the glow of those bright green shoots popping through the mulch and reaching for the sky. It also means that it’s the end of OUR winter hibernation on the farm and its time to get back to work and there’s no lack of things to do.
As the garlic begins to emerge we’ll start walking the rows making sure that none of our “babies” are trapped under the mulch along with doing some early weeding of winter weeds like chickweed and purple deadnettle. Once the majority of garlic has emerged we will side dress with a organic fertilizer application high in nitrogen, (Chilean Nitrate 15-0-2) at a rate of 40-50 lbs per acre, being careful to apply when dry so as to not burn the plants but ideally before a good steady rain. Once our garlic reaches 3-4” tall we will begin a bi-weekly regimen of foliar feeding with a fish/seaweed emulsion. During this time we’ll also get our drip tape irrigation in place just in case we need it later in the season before the plants get to tall and make it difficult to get in place.
Because of our location in SE PA we also have to deal with and protect against Allium Leaf Miner (ALM). For us that means covering ALL of our fields with insect netting (supported by tall hoops) from late April until early June, just prior to scapes appearing. Once we cover for ALM our ability to foliar feed is over for the season but if you live in an area where you don’t need to worry about ALM then you should foliar feed up until garlic scapes begin forming. Additionally we are especially vigilant early in the season about weeding prior to covering to reduce weed pressure during this 40+ days when we are unable to access the crop.
The work you do early in the season has a HUGE impact on the quality of your harvest later in the season. And speaking of harvest….its less than 100 days away!