The wonders of garlic never cease! Not only is it used in a multitude of dishes from all around the world, it’s a nutritional powerhouse that packs a punch as strong as it’s delicious aroma.
While garlic is freely available in shops, the variety that is stocked in supermarkets is mostly irradiated, and the benefit of growing your own is that you get to grow from “seed” that is clean and organic and specifically used for growing.
What to Know:
Garlic is part of the Allium family and is closely related to onions, shallots and leeks etc.
Garlic has very few calories and is rich in vitamins C, B6, and manganese.
Garlic forms part of a number of immune boosters to help prevent and reduce the severity of common illnesses like the flu and the common cold.
High doses of garlic have been known to lower high blood pressure and reduce cholesterol.
Garlic contains antioxidants that protect against ageing, and it is speculated that garlic can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
How to Grow
The end of summer and the beginning of autumn are the times for planting garlic as the bulb needs to go through a stratifying process allowing it to bulb.
Garlic likes full sun and loose, crumbly soil. Hard-packed soil will lead your bulbs to be misshapen. Work in some organic compost or manure before planting – this will help with the texture of the soil as well as the fertility.
If your soil has poor drainage, it’s likely that your bulbs will rot.
In areas with mild winters, plant your garlic about 1-2 inches deep. In areas with harsher winters, aim for 2-4 inches deep. Space your garlic 4-6 inches apart, with about 12 inches between rows.
The clove will yield lush green leaves. At this time, it’s important to keep the soil evenly moist so the bulbs can grow. When the leaves begin to yellow, hold off on watering too much as this can cause your bulbs to rot.
Leaves supply energy to the bulbs so be sure not to remove these. When the leaves turn yellow and fall over, or when only a few green leaves remain, it’s time to harvest.
When harvesting your garlic, pull gently on the plant. Avoid using a garden fork that is likely to damage your bulbs.
Carefully brush off any soil, leaving the roots and leaves intact. Lay your garlic out in a shaded and well-ventilated spot for 2-3 weeks to dry thoroughly, however cloves can be used immediately. When the outer layers of the bulbs are dry and papery, cut off or braid the stems together and store your bulbs in a mesh bag.