Mersley Farm - Garlic Farm
All good gardens should have an ample supply of garlic growing, but which variety is best? Ms Tagalong set off to find out by visiting the world famous Garlic Farm in the Isle of Wight. Tucked into the lee of surrounding hills, protected from prevailing winds and with abundant spring water the farm buildings come into view as you drive up Mersley Lane.
Man has lived on this site for at least 6,000 years but there seems no proof that garlic has been grown here for that long!
In fact garlic was brought to the island for homesick French soldiers during the last war and as garlic is now a staple for most kitchens its popularity is timely.
For thirty years the Boswell family has scoured the world for the best varieties and strains to grow here. They supply over 15 types brought from as far as Kazakhstan and Central Asia.
You probably don't need so many in your community garden! Ms Tagalong and friends walked around the farm with nary a field of garlic in sight. Apparently their rotation requirements need the farm to use other farmer's land for their crops.
Moldovian garlic is great for bread, elephant garlic great for baking and Chesnok Wight a very fiery one to be used with care.
Trying the different garlic products in the education centre was a highlight which Mr Ideasman deemed necessary to repeat after the walk! Vampire pickles, mayonnaises, mustards and relishes were all on sale in the well-stocked shop where Flavia was serving for her fourth year. Not a local, she comes from Shropshire every year with her parents for her summer holiday and spends it working in the cafe. A secret teenage garlic lover who has read too much Twilight?
Ms Tagalong bought a few varieties to sample but sadly can't bring them back to Australia. That might be good for the alliophobics amongst you! (people with an irrational fear of garlic)
Garlic facts you might not know, (courtesy of Mersley Farm)
- Gardeners can use a spray of crushed garlic in water to combat aphids, whitefly, spiders and other pests.
- Folklore has it that carrying a garlic clove with you when travelling over water will prevent you from drowning. (Ms Tagalong wished she knew that before she got on the Isle of Wight ferry!)
- Fifteen pounds (about 7kg) of garlic would buy a healthy male slave. Now that's interesting! Oh, this was in the reign of King Tutankhamun of Egypt, all those years ago.