The Story of Pinerock Garlic
Questions we've had
About our Farm
Why did I get into garlic?
I have been involved in the farming industry now, well, forever. Well, at least as long as I can physically remember. I can remember my family growing garlic when I was young, and it intrigued me enough for me to give it a good go. I can’t think of not growing something in my gardens that I can’t eat!!
What types of Garlic do I produce?
Since I have been growing garlic here in Dubbo, I have grown up to 7 different varieties of Garlic. This coming year I will be growing at least 3 varieties.
The first variety is one that I’ve been growing here since day 1, Dynamite Purple.
Second variety is called: Rojo De-castro, it is closely related to the Dynamite.
Third one is Californian Late, a relatively “standard” variety.
I like to grow varieties that firstly, do well in this area. That’s the main reason I have been growing so many varieties over the years.
Where do we sell our garlic?
Our main outlets for selling our products are: Local farmers markets and fairs, as well as on our website www.pinerock-garlic.com
What products do we sell?
Well of course we sell our garlic, it is sold in either bags, loose, or in braids.
We also sell our salts.
We wanted to value add to a product that not only is tasty, but is good for you too. Our salts took quite a few tries to get the flavours right.
We came up with a process that “infuses” the flavours of the garlic, and the other ingredients, INTO the salt.
How much land is used to grow our garlic?
Currently we use around 2 acres to grow our garlic. It’s not a big area, but we pack it into our raised beds.
Processes used from planting to harvest?
Soil preparation is the key to any farming practice whether you are a small backyard hack, or you are a multi-million dollar farming organisation. I use rotational cropping procedures for my garlic crop, so I am always turning the soil over. I use a scarifier to dig down a bit deeper between crops. I also try to deep rip the area at least once a year prior to setting up the garlic beds before planting.
To make the shape of my beds, I made my own bed former which drags soil from around the area where the bed is to go and puts it into a swale type bed. Once I have the soil in the spot I need the bed, I can now start putting some of the fertiliser and other inputs into the soil. I either apply by hand, or by liquid pumped directly into the soil of the bed. This is generally done at least 2-3 months before I start planting the garlic. This timing gives the fertilisers and nutrients the time it needs to start releasing their goodness into the soil.
Once I’m happy with the nutrients that has been applied, I will generally run over the mound with the rotary-hoe to make the proper shape required for my beds. The beds are then left untouched for some time to let weeds emerge so I can eradicate at least 1 germination of weeds prior to planting. We don’t use chemicals in our garlic production, so all weed control is either done by hand or mechanically. We haven’t used any post planting mulch in the past, but this year we have already purchased lucerne hay to mulch our garlic after we plant this year. Once the garlic has grown and is ready for harvesting, I have made a digger that goes underneath the bed and cuts and releases the garlic from the bed. We then walk along and knock the excess dirt off the bulbs and then bundle them up into piles. We then cruise along with the tractor and pick up the bundles and put them into the tractor bucket. We then take the many loads up to our shed where we tie and bundle them and hang them on racks. The garlic then hangs in the shed until the curing process has finished. We have fans running 24hrs a day on them to keep air flowing around them so they can dry out properly. After they have cured enough, we can then start braiding them or prepping them for sale.
What is our soil management plan? What pests and diseases do we deal with also?
Our strategy is to keep our soil as healthy and microbially active as possible.
To do this we use a rotational cropping technique at 100% rotation. Some people use a 33% rotation strategy, but I find that can be a bit draining on the soil profile. I use a 100% rotation program so that I can plant leafy crops as well as legumes and also fumigatory crops to break disease cycles. By using this technique, I find I do not have any bad soil borne pathogens or disease. This also allows you to farm in the same area for far longer periods before needing to give the soil a “break”. You may never need to give the soil a “break” using this method as you are never growing the same crop in the same area for more than 1 year.
What makes this climate good for growing garlic?
Most climates within Australia can grow garlic successfully. There are many different varieties grown within Australia which gives everyone the ability to grow quality garlic.
This area, Dubbo, has what is called an “arid” climate, so the varieties are limited depending on the particular soil type.
How do we water our garlic?
We use a drip tape to water the garlic, it is quite possibly the best watering system available. We can water our crop super quickly, and super efficiently. We can water our garlic crop (last year was around 55,000 plants) within 3 hours. Drip tape can deliver the water exactly to where you need it without wasting a single drop. We never water areas that don’t need water, and we can apply liquid fertilisers directly into the root zone of the plants without wasting a drop either.
Who is involved in the operation?
Roger and Jo are the main contributors to the whole operation. Roger does all the ground work and preparation of the crops, while Jo does the salt Infusion preparation and drying of the salts. Roger does the bagging, bottling and labelling of the salts.
We do outsource labour as required during the most labour intensive times. Planting, mulching, weeding and harvest.
Our mission is to grow seriously good Garlic and to make seriously good products from the Garlic we grow.