Ubiquitous garlic – it is
an essential ingredient in foods from around the world. Think Spanish alioli,
Indian curry paste, Italian bruschetta or Vietnamese dipping sauce. And that’s
just for starters.
Perversely, this common use
vegetable is sourced by our supermarkets from China, Mexico or further afield;
it’s bleached white and it’s often old.
Enter Mat Charlton and Van
Diemen Garlic to save the day.
Mild-mannered IT consultant
by day, Mat is forging another life, one as a Tasmanian garlic producer.
Under the Van Diemen Garlic banner, Mat is growing garlic; plump and purple and spray-free.
That’s as close as you get to organic without the ticket (p.s Van Diemen Garlic
is working towards certification now).
Mat has always had a keen
interest in growing vegetables. As a kid, he grew them with his dad and his
grandparents owned an apple orchard in the Channel, in the days before the
bottom fell out of the Tasmanian industry. As an adult, he’s always grown
vegetables, wherever he’s lived. That makes garlic production at scale a
natural extension of a lifelong interest.
Mat is also keen on
providing garlic as a local product that isn’t laced with chemicals and
He’s a little mad keen on
it too. Apart from its use in the cuisines of the world, it has health benefits
– chiefly it’s an immune system boost. Garlic soup is produced at the first
hint of a sore throat in the Charlton family.
Van Diemen Garlic is still
in its early days. This year they produced half a tonne and Mat plans to double
production next year.
Mat is growing eight
cultivas of garlic on the land of his grandfather’s apple orchard in Middleton.
At this time in the season there is one variety ready with more available in
the weeks to come.
Fun garlic fact – there is a four level hierarchy of garlic growing.
There’s garlic, underneath which sits either hard or soft neck of which there
are five groups, below which sit the cultivas which are varieties. There are
about 200 cultivas.
|Drying the new harvest, image courtesy of Van Diemen Garlic Facebook page.|
This Girl has grown a bulb
of two of garlic in my time but they’ve never amounted to much. Mat says the
key to the success of Van Diemen Garlic is TLC which means keeping the weeds
away. They plant between March and April but he says you can plant anytime between
March and June as the plants that go in later seem to catch up. They do need
fertiliser though and Mat makes his own using a completely organic Steve
Or buy direct at their
stall at the Hobart Farmers Markets, Bathurst Street, TODAY AND NEXT SUNDAY. They are usually there one Sunday per month –
email them at email@example.com for dates.
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