News from the Garlic Farmer 30th Aug, 2019

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Garlic is planted by enthusiastic amateur gardeners all across the UK, keen to harvest their own supply of this delicious kitchen staple. But poor results from supermarket-bought bulbs lead many people to think they (or their garden) haven't got what it takes to successfully grow healthy, good-sized, flourishing garlic plants.

The Garlic Farm on the Isle of Wight has been selling premium quality, garlic seed stock for thirty years, bringing homegrown garlic to more and more gardens and kitchens throughout Britain. With its long sunlight hours and gentle maritime climate, the Isle of Wight is an ideal location to base a garlic-growing business. If the Island lacks anything in climate conditions, it is the benefit of a prolonged period at below -5 centigrade. Whilst few Island gardeners reading this would wish an Eastern European winter on us, it does have advantages in disease and insect management. Rust (in some years the demise of many good garlic crops) is never seen east of Germany. The rust spores are destroyed by temperatures below -5C.

Spring-planted silverskin garlic grows exceptionally well here – planted December to March in soil that rarely freezes for long, and followed by a warming growth curve through the spring. This Isle of Wight Garlic is perfect for plaiting, and its long dormancy means all silverskin types (Picardy, Tuscany, as well as Mersley, and Solent Wight) can be plaited and hung in the kitchen for almost twelve months.

The original Isle of Wight Garlic, Solent Wight, is a spring-planted, silverskin, softneck bulb - first grown on the Island during the Second World War, with stock flown in by the Special Operations Executive to RAF Tangmere. It was specifically grown to feed the Free French sailors based in Cowes. This is currently being superseded by Mersley Wight, a larger bulb version of the same strain.

Hardneck garlic types are those closer to the original 'Mother of all Garlic' from Kazakhstan. Whilst Silverskin and Artichoke garlic grow well in Isle of Wight and Mediterranean climes, for the garlic connoisseur the ultimate garlic hit comes from Creoles, Porcelain, Purple Stripes and Rocambole that grow best with a cold winter. They deliver a range of heats, flavours and essences that bring garlic tasting closer to a wine degustation. The Garlic Farm is working on offering these Heritage garlic types to the wider public.

Every year, we conduct growing trials on about forty different garlic varieties from around the world. In 2019, this included our first ever trial of Japanese garlic, sourced near Hokkaido in the north, which is used to make an exceptional black garlic: unctuous, gooey, and sweet. The trials at The Garlic Farm are more extensive and international than almost anywhere in the world.

Come and discover more at The Garlic Farm!