The Army Comes To The Rescue Of Shane’s Garlic. During late January, Shane’s garlic crop needed some quick action and the Australian Army was here to help.
The garlic had spent more than enough time drying in the shed and desperately needed to be trimmed, sorted and packed. But for more than a month, Shane had been dedicated to his firefighting role. Every minute had been spent fighting the island’s fires, so a helping hand at the farm was now much needed.
There were thousands of army reservists deployed to the various disaster zones around Australia, to help locals with their recovery efforts, as part of Operation Bushfire Assist. Among these were a group of reservists assisting at the Parndana CFS station where Shane had been working. When they heard his tragic story and realised his plight, they immediately volunteered to spend some time in his infamous garlic shed!
Why Correct Storage And Preparation Is So Critical
The protective, papery skins on garlic bulbs don’t develop fully until after curing. Many garlic farms dry the fresh bulbs in the sunshine before curing. Although suitable in cooler climates, Australian summers can be too hot, which results in the bulbs getting sunburnt. In drier areas, you will often see growers lying the freshly dug bulbs on top of the soil, to allow them to dry out and start curing. Farmers will arrange them so the leaves from a clump of harvested bulbs will protect another clump from the direct sun.
However, the rise and fall of temperatures throughout the day and night can harm the bulb, reducing storage times. They are usually better cured under cover with more constant temperatures. The whole garlic plant is left intact with all its leaves, full stalks and roots. When they have completed the drying process, the leaves and stems need to be removed to ensure maximum shelf life. They are then usually stored or packed in shallow, slatted wooden boxes, or in net slings or plaits to provide enough air circulation around each garlic bulb. It’s a big job!
Cutting, Sorting And Packing Kangaroo Island Garlic
The fabulous Australian Army reservists helped us remove some of the crop’s roots and cut off the stems. They then sorted the bulbs, as we use them for different products, with the larger, juicier ones kept for fresh garlic sales. Other smaller bulbs can then be split into individual cloves, then carefully peeled and processed. These are used for bags of frozen cloves and our infamous KI garlic salt, powder or garlic granules.
As Shane had spent months promoting his various products and fresh garlic produce to retailers and restaurants, we had a raft of important orders to fill. We were determined not to let anyone down, so their help speeded up the process and helped saved the day. Their response with assistance, along with so many other thoughtful people, is something everyone at KI will never forget. It meant Shane could also fulfil online orders from people wanting to support businesses and communities affected by the bushfires.
We really can’t find the right words to thank each and every one of you.