The West Uncut: garlic


Is yours in? Mine is. I put it in around dusk, just before the April full moon.

And this year I am growing double the amount of garlic I grew last year. Good crop that last one, but not enough.

Took me a week to prepare the ground, moulding it into the mother-of-all-plots and already you can see handsome green stems rising with pride towards the light.

Those determined individuals from Albany, Manjimup and Baldivis who already supply me with copious quantities of organically grown knobs need not fear, I will not be able to grow enough to satisfy my needs. Even with my harvest in, I will remain an active buyer in the marketplace.

Why then must I grow garlic? Good question and I have answers.

One reason is that I come from a long line of fruit and vegetable growers and when I was a boy during the last ice-age in Bridgetown, we grew everything we needed.

In the beginning there was mum, dad, my older brother and me. This was nowhere near enough folk to work the sprawling orchards, so we grew two more brothers.

Four boys, a man and a hard working country woman who could bake a cake, darn a sock and drive a tractor, now that was a team.

And another reason, an outstanding reason, is that it is our patriotic duty to grow fruit and vegetables on the land surrounding our house.

Those of us nearing the end of our allotted allotment will well remember growing up in a house with a yard heavily laden with grape vines, vegi-patches and fruit trees.

This was before television. This was when boredom was an imaginary world inhabited by rampant drill-crews who roamed the landscape making holes in the ground in an endless search for water, oil and China.

Everyone had plenty to do and even when we didn’t want to do it we still did and all year round we dug, planted, watered and harvested.

Yes, my fellow West Australians, it is our patriotic duty to plant garlic and tell me this, could there be a greater defence of one’s nation that the ability to produce our own food?

Oh yes, there’s been a lot of talk about patriotism in recent years and some seem to think it’s about flying a flag from your front yard, your roof, or your car and driving around like a lunatic with your head out the window yelling “Aussie Aussie Aussie”.

What a lot of cocky poo!

Did you know that over 90% of all garlic sold in Australia comes from overseas? We should be ashamed of ourselves.

You know how hard it is to grow garlic? You move a sod, you add some sheep or chicken poo, bit of blood and bone, rake it in, water it, wait a couple of days, stick cloves all over it, bingo, around November, garlic! It’s a bloody miracle.

All this talk from Federal and local pollies about getting used to importing fruit and vegetables and the boys in Canberra recently deciding to let in New Zealand apples makes me want to get stroppy and picket parliaments.

Do they get out? Do they use the phone, watch the evening news, read a paper, search the internet, or engage in casual conversation?

Haven’t they heard that over here in the West we have a surplus of apples? We can’t sell all our apples. Orchardists are dumping apples. Would it make sense to send apples to the east where the drought has not only left them short of water but also apples?

Is anyone listening?

And anyone who buys land that was once prime fruit and vegi growing country should be required to grow garlic and apples in their back yard and make sensible use of available water and soil.

It’s Saturday morning. This is the first morning of the rest of your life. Make a stand, put the paper down, get of your butt, go outside and choose the best place to plant garlic. It’ll need good soil, sandy will do for now and a sunny spot. Go to it.

You’re a good person, a credit to your country, a true patriot.

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