Meet the Grower
Nestled amongst world-renowned wineries, Garlico Marlborough is testament that Blenheim has ideal growing conditions for more than just grapes. In fact, garlic has been grown in Marlborough for the past 30-40 years.
Second generation growers, Robert Harrison-Jones and his brother Alan, dedicate 60 acres of land to growing garlic.
New Zealand garlic is proudly used in our Anathoth Farm Sweet Chilli Relish.
Proudly New Zealand Grown
Garlico Marlborough use seed (or cloves) they have grown and harvested themselves. This ensures their seed is clean, healthy and free of soil borne diseases that could play havoc with next season’s yield. With 10-15 cloves per bulb and 16 cloves planted per metre, you can imagine the huge number of cloves required to be planted each season to plant out 60 acres. With the assistance of a machine, cloves are individually sown all within a week.
Just as you would when growing garlic in your own vegetable patch, garlic cloves are traditionally planted on the shortest day of the year, in June. Then, in between feeding and watering, it’s a waiting game for the mature crop to be harvested on the longest day.
A garlic clove must be nurtured well during its early stage of growth. The secret to a healthy garlic bulb is a nice healthy green top which is enabled by plenty of daylight hours, water and food (nitrogen in particular). The bulbous flesh of garlic only starts to form in December and can literally double in size within a matter of weeks. Garlic won’t recover if it dries out at any stage of the growing cycle, so drought fighting can be a common challenge for growers during the searing Marlborough summer months.
After garlic bulbs are harvested and green tops removed, they need to dry thoroughly and cure by way of a three-week drying process. If you were to eat fresh garlic straight from the ground it would be much milder and won’t have the oomph or flavour as you’d expect from a cured bulb.
New Zealand grown garlic must adhere to strict NZGAP (industry standard) protocols, where spray and fertiliser usage records must be disclosed and recorded. The same unfortunately can’t be said for imported garlic.
Growing garlic in huge quantities takes much planning. White Rot or nematodes (microscopic worms that feed on bacteria, fungi) can create havoc in the soil and render it futile for repeat garlic crops. Therefore often garlic will need to be planted out in fresh paddocks each season to ensure the best soil and pH levels are in place.
Marlborough offers ideal growing conditions for garlic. Garlic needs a winning combination of chilling time (a good frost doesn’t hurt) and hot dry sun. Geographically, further north and garlic growers often battle against humidity, whilst further south it’s colder and the plants don’t get the sunshine hours required.
The life of a busy grower
Once garlic harvesting is complete, Robert and his team then proceed to harvest onion seed, then shallots. Summer is always a busy time and harvesting doesn’t stop until April.
Like most growers, Robert and his family don’t always get a chance to have an extended break from the farm so make the most of their slice of paradise on their backdoor step. Living in such a beautiful part of the country, Robert and his family enjoy fishing in the Marlborough Sounds and rugby.
Blenheim, Marlborough, New Zealand