Grower profile: John Olliff, Freshwater Creek Garlic
John Olliff got his start by planting a small batch of Garlic on his Fresh Water Creek property. He didn’t have commercial growing experience but he was enthusiastic and persistent.
6 years later he’s growing in commercial quantities and has developed a process that yields the most sensational organic garlic in the region, with a strong focus on our environment and sustainability.
The 4 most valuable lessons he’s learned are:
1. Keep soil pH as neutral as possible
2. Keep it well drained
3. Use plenty of organic matter
4. Do not over water
“These tips are valuable for anyone that wants to grow some garlic. We learned through trial and error. They’re tried and true principles for us”
“With a temperate climate, moderate winters and an average rainfall of 22 inches or 550 mm a year, we grow the garlic variety Italian Late, a soft neck garlic with a hot and rich flavour. This variety has a storage capacity of up to 8 months after harvest.”
John Olliff on Compost
John had great success making his own compost in the early years however it was a lot of work and became impractical to make at scale.
“I’d bring in hundreds of kilos of stable waste manure, mix it, check moisture, turn it weekly etc. We had great results!”
“As we scaled up it became hard to monitor moisture, make sure the temp was correct at the right times, that the carbon was breaking down properly etc”
“Garlic is my core business and growing it meant I needed specialists that could deliver the volumes I was starting to need.”
“We use it quite heavily. We have 14,000 sq metres of beds and use about 10 to 12 kg of compost per square metre.”
“It’s quite concentrated however I have a very strong conviction that when applied regularly in a horticultural situation it’s extremely beneficial to our plant yield. We haven’t done trials at this stage but I know my business and I see it in the yield.”
Freshwater Creek Garlic is available from the Torquay & Aireys Inlet Farmers’ Markets and also regularly available at Harvey’s of Highton