Van Diemen Garlic
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.
(Cue Superman theme)
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 irradiated.
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 Solomon recipe.
Or buy direct at their stall at the Hobart Farmers Markets, Bathurst Street. They are usually there one Sunday per month – email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
And like them on Facebook here