I was kindly given 500 cloves of garlic 21 years ago. Being the way I am I was always going to be growing in a natural bio-dynamic way. This then lead me to The Whangarei Growers Market, it gave me a way to market my garlic and give fresh healthy food to the public. At the market I was inspired by a customer to try his smoked pickled garlic, which lead to the idea and technique of cold smoking garlic and creating an amazing change of the garlic flavor and a subtle smokey flavor and a very good shelf life .
I then ventured to Takapuna to expand my business, where I featured in Cusine Magazine in November 2001 after a customer raved about my smoked garlic. I also featured in New Zealand Gardener Magazine in march 2003. I was also chosen along with two others from Northland to feature in a book titled "Discover New Zealand Food" published in 2007.
After a few years I started looking for other varieties to grow, people wanted a stronger flavor but still wanted good sized cloves for easy handling,after many years of trialing two came out on top, a lovely red hard neck [meaning a stalk with flower set.] and a soft neck [meaning no flower stalk.] also ready to harvest at different times .So now I have the three garlic varieties in different quantities from year to year .
I have no land so leasing was the option that suited growing and not owning land. I discovered that the garlic was a crop that can be grown in the same place for a few years and that its got an amazing resistance to insects and disease .With no added fertilizer or anything except cultivating the land and letting nature do its thing .With cultivation the nitrogen levels come right up then get stored in the soil as nitrates with all the the other vitamins and minerals etc ,in a balanced environment to be available to the plants and microbes in the soil and allowing the worms and microbes to thrive and multiply ,I then use light deprivation, ie ,[thin black plastic] for weed control around the garlic and then mow between the rows during the growing season ,So No Sprays Needed .After a period of time I punch holes and push a clove in ,approx 6 months later around the longest day of the year we lift off the plastic ,the soil being mostly free of weeds alows my bulb lifter to work without to many problems ,hopefully.The rows then have to be worked through and the garlic is laid downing a line with the leaves of the last one covering the bulb of the one before, protecting it from the sun ,towards the end of the day its gathered into piles and picked and taken to sheds with good air flow to dry and cure .
The end result is the healthiest garliky garlic around.