Roy shares his garlic obsession with locals

Roy Cody with some of his prized produce. WITH nearly 30 years’ experience in the industry, growing garlic isn’t just a hobby for Tamworth’s Roy Cody – it’s an obsession. And Roy will be showcasing his obsession at this year’s Moree on a Plate. Mr Cody began growing his purple variety of garlic 28 years ago, supplying garlic for his friends and family for two decades before setting it up as a business. He’s crafted his own variety, Roy’s Purple Garlic, which has been praised for its fresh, full flavour. “It was a turban hardneck purple garlic that probably came from NZ purple but we can’t be sure,” Mr Cody said. “Garlic tends to develop its own characteristics over a long period of time because you save the cloves to plant the next year.” His garlic has a huge following at local farmer’s markets and he also sells it online and supplies seed to other garlic growers. Mr Cody has mastered the farming part of the job, but there’s been plenty of trial and error over the years. “I actually designed and built a garlic planter, but we planted it too deep and we only got a 30 per cent strike rate,” he said. “We found it was too difficult to harvest when it was in the ground and you’ve got to be careful with garlic when you’re harvesting. “Even dropping a bundle into a truck will bruise a clove or two, and they’ll dry out and go mouldy, then they could affect the rest of the bulb.”

Garlic tends to develop its own characteristics over a long period of time. - Roy Cody Rather than plant the garlic in the heavy clay soil, Mr Cody spreads the seeds on top of the soil then covers them with gum tree mulch, a by-product of his tree service business. He grows it organically without the use of herbicides and pesticides. “I’ve done a lot of trials and I wouldn’t change it now. “Because I grow my garlic on top of the soil the bulbs are perfectly clean, because it’s only the roots in the soil.” The mulch has also been a great help with weeding. “Garlic hates weeds. It doesn’t like competition, so you have to keep it weeded and mulch is the best way to do that,” Mr Cody said. “The mulch allows the garlic to come up but slows the weeds down and makes the crop a lot easier to weed.” His garlic is planted from mid-March to June. "This particular variety of garlic requires a cold winter, so it won’t bulb out properly in warmer areas like the coast. “It’s got to have the cold winter but it never bulbs until the spring comes, then we have to harvest at the right time, when the outer leaves start to dry. “If you don’t harvest as soon as it’s ready, if you get rain the skin will deteriorate and you’ll have bare cloves.” One of the biggest factors in the crop’s success was moisture, Mr Cody said. “You need to keep it moist in the winter but water really well in the spring. “In winter I give it a good soaking once a fortnight but in the spring it’s six-hour shifts of water every week. “Once you’ve worked everything out garlic is very easy to grow - just plant it, weed it, water it and harvest it.”