Is it possible to have a favorite herb? Maybe, but I haven’t been able to choose one yet. BUT, Garlic is definitely one herb I won’t ever be without.
How to grow garlic and five reasons you should.
Five Reasons to Grow Garlic:
- Garlic is an anti-bacterial– there are many studies that show how garlic combats harmful bacteria. You can read one study done on the effectiveness of garlic against bacteria in food that would cause the consumer to get sick. The extract of the garlic kills and/or inhibits the pathogen from multiplying.
- Garlic is anti-viral– long before the Coronavirus became national and global news, there were and are many virus that attack the respiratory system as well as all the systems of the body. As you may know, a virus cannot be killed by an anti-biotic. Also, by nature a virus will mutate as it spreads making vaccinations largely ineffective. So, with studies showing naturally occurring compounds in garlic to be effective against the respiratory diseases, garlic an incredibly valuable herb.
- Garlic is anti-fungal– when it comes to fungus, there are few that we really welcome into our lives. Mushrooms being the most popular. There are also fungi that wreak havoc on our bodies and Candida albicans is one of the most common. The natural compound Allicin is a powerful compound and can neutralize the fungi.
- Garlic is delicious- When it comes to bringing flavor to the party, garlic is a heavy hitter. The more the merrier, I always say. It goes great with lots of food, one of my favorite dishes is a French dish of scalloped potatoes.
- Garlic keeps Vampires at bay- Now, I know vampires are lore, but after the previous two years- why not just cover all our bases? For centuries, garlic has been said to have supernatural powers. This stems from the fact that during the plague, garlic mongers did not get sick. So, folks deduced that it must be the garlic and they began to wear bulbs of garlic around their necks to ward off the evil spirits that made you sick. We now know that it was all those anti-microbial qualities of garlic that we discussed above that kept the garlic mongers from getting sick.
As we get out and about now selling our herbs a Farmer’s Markets and Garden Festivals, I am frequently asked if I have any garlic. When I ask questions to clarify just what the customer is looking for, I am surprised that they are looking for seedlings so that they can grow their own Garlic. How marvelous! Just one problem…
If you want to grow garlic in Texas or anywhere in the South, you need to plant is in September or October, the same with strawberries- but that is a whole other blog and soapbox. Once planted in the early fall, the bulbs will sprout and grow all winter long then in June or so, the tops will start to turn brown and it is time to harvest. Yes, no matter where you live garlic takes that long to grow. But, it is so worth it and it really is easy.
How To Grow Garlic
To get started, you will need something to plant- right? Garlic can be purchased in the store as a bulb. In that bulb are many cloves. Each clove when planted will produce another bulb and the cycle just keeps going. So, once you purchase your garlic you will not ever need to purchase more, just save some cloves from your harvest and you will be good to go. You can plant the garlic from the grocer or you can order from a seed company. If you order from a seed company you will know exactly what variety you are getting and in the supermarket you will have no idea. I have planted plenty from the grocer and did just fine but ordering from an organic grower means you know what you are getting.
Two suppliers that I like to order from are:
The looser the ground, the better for growing garlic. However, I have grown in clay and done fine. Just dig a little whole twice as deep as the clove is long and plant the clove pointy end up. Then wait. You can inter plant with something like lettuce that has a shallow root system to make use of the open soil and double your harvest from the same square footage. For the best harvest, you will need to water- but no more than you would for any other crop. One inch once a week is perfect.
You will know when to harvest by the fact that the stalks have bloomed and now are beginning to turn brown. Use a pitch fork or something similar to loosen the soil. Gently pull the garlic up. Spread the stalks on a dry and flat surface and let the cure (dry out a bit and the outer “paper” will dry). Garlic can by stored for the better part of the year easily meaning that if you plant enough you will never need to buy garlic again.
Regardless of why you grow garlic- for use as a natural medicine or to create culinary masterpieces- Happy Planting!