Garlic trials in red, loamy outback soil find fast-growing success

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Australia’s largest garlic producer has teamed up with a remote Northern Territory Indigenous community to grow garlic, with great success already in the tasting.

The Alekarenge Horticulture farm, about 350 kilometres north of Alice Springs, was established by Centrefarm Aboriginal Horticulture to provide training and employment opportunities for the local community.

Under the instruction of the company Australian Garlic Producers, different varieties have been trialled in small plots at the farm.

Farm supervisor Del Norris said some of the garlic had grown really well in the red, loamy soils around Ali Curung.

“One variety bulbed up really well and did all that it was supposed to do,” she said.

“We sowed it in April and it was harvested in September, so that’s a five-month growth period.

woman standing at farmwoman standing at farm
Supervisor at the Alekarenge Horticulture training farm, Del Norris, says its garlic is fast growing and very tasty.(ABC Rural)

Ms Norris said the garlic was of a high quality and full of flavour.

“The smell of the garlic is apparent right from the word go, and that’s because of its freshness,” she said.

Ms Norris said Ali Curung residents had assisted with the establishment of the crop.

“We employed four people to plant the garlic and two of them are still here to harvest it,” she said.

“The community participation in raising anything on this farm is what is paramount to us because this whole training farm has been set up as a pathway to employment.”

Trials set to be expanded next year

Australian Garlic Producers provides the seed for the Alekarenge Horticulture farm and is responsible for the agronomy of the crop.

The company grows garlic across the southern states, but chief executive Nick Diamantopoulos said they were interested in extending their growing season.

“We naturally harvest garlic from October right through to February in the cooler climates,” he said.

The operation is set to be expanded next year with five hectares being cleared for more pre-commercial garlic trials.

Mr Diamantopoulos said there was huge demand for Australian garlic, and he saw Central Australia playing a role in supplying that market.

He said there was significant scope for bigger garlic crops to be established in the region.

“If the five hectares goes well, we could potentially be doing 50-100 hectares to make the most of this early season garlic opportunity,” Mr Diamantopoulos said.