Garlic, this wonder food, is both a vegetable and an herb. It has been used in medicinal remedies for thousands of years, since the ancient Greek and Roman times. It is an easy to grow plant that should be part of every garden, since garlic consumption protects you against infection, environmental toxins and even cancer. Not to mention that it is a non-toxic pest control substance and has many other benefits you might not be aware of.
Garlic is a member of the Alliaceae family, or lily family, of the plant genus Allium, which includes onions, leeks, shallots, chives, and garlic. Garlic plants have long, flat, spear-shaped leaves that typically grow between 16 and 18 inches tall. The bulb itself consists of anywhere from three to forty cloves, and inside each clove is a bud that can produce a new plant.
There are two main subspecies of garlic: hardneck and softneck. The hardneck type produces long, curly stalks called “scapes” that in turn will produce little bulblets at their ends. The softneck type does not produce scapes, but does produce larger bulbs and more cloves per bulb. Softneck is easier to grow and keeps longer than its hardneck cousin.
This plant can be grown in a wide sphere of climates and landscape, therefore it is s an excellent garden choice for even the newest of gardeners, it is simple to grow and is easy to maintain.
It is now known that garlic contains compounds such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, and numerous sulfur compounds. The plant produces allicin, one of the compounds that have antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiviral, and antioxidant properties.
If you have decided to grow this plant, you must first choose what type of garlic you’re going to plant. The hardneck type does best in Northern climates, while the softneck type does better in the Southern regions.
For the South regions you can plant garlic cloves in late September to mid-October and if the ground doesn’t freeze you can plant as late as January. For planting use only the bulbs that are large and firm and make sure there aren’t any soft spots on the cloves. You should divide the bulbs into cloves only when you are ready to plant and not sooner.
The plant loves crumbly, light soil that drains well and has good sun exposure. If you get a lot of rain in your area you should use raised beds for better drainage.
Plant cloves 2 to 4 inches down with the pointy sides up, 6 to 8 inches apart and keep 15 inches of spaces between the rows, as shown in the picture bellow.
Garlic care works
Do the following for care works:
Cover the ground with several inches of leaves or straw to protect the cloves over the winter months.
Weed often so that the cloves have enough sunlight and nutrients
Around mid-June, if you have planted hardneck, you have to cut the green curling stalks that appear. They contain tiny bulblets and if you don’t cut them in time, the growth of the garlic bulbs will be weakened and you will end up having smaller bulbs. You can use the bulbets and stalks for various dishes as both are edible.
Add manure tea, compost or any other organic fertilizer in early spring for fall planted garlic and in early summer for spring planted garlic. The fertilizer should be added six inches on either side of the bulb to avoid burning the plant.
Do not over water and keep the beds evenly moist. You should stop watering two weeks before harvesting.
If you have fruit trees in your garden, planting garlic around the base of the trees will keep the borers and aphids away.
When and how to harvest it
The bulbs are ready to harvest when the majority of the leaves have turned yellow and dry, with only 2-3 green leaves left on each plant. The harvest is being done usually between the first week of July to mid-August, depending on the strain, climate and location.
Use a small digging fork to loosen the soil and lift the plant up. Be careful not to bruise the bulbs as you will no longer be able to store them.
Use a cloth to shake off the dirt and allow the bulbs to dry, out of direct sunlight. The bulbs should dry for at least two weeks until the outer skin is papery.
How to store it
Store the bulbs in a cool, dry place with good ventilation. You can use mesh bags to keep the garlic for six to eight months.
Clean the garlic only when you are ready to use and not before storing, otherwise you will bruise the bulbs and shorten its shelf life.
Garlic should be stored separately from potatoes and fruits, as these types of foods might absorb its flavor.
Some people prefer braiding garlic to store the bulbs, but for people who lack the skill and patience, making a bundle with three or more bulbs and tying them together with a string, should do the trick.
Make garlic vinegar
You can make vinegar by adding chopped garlic or even whole cloves to a bottle of white or red wine vinegar. Submerge the garlic completely. You can add how much garlic you want, depending on your taste. Garlic vinegar will last for six months if refrigerated or two to three months if kept in a cool, dark place. Discard if mold develops, or if it develops a foamy, cloudy or slimy appearance, which is an indication of yeast growth.
Crush a clove of garlic and using a cotton ball, rub the affected area with it. Let it sit for about 10 minutes before washing off with water. The antibacterial and antifungal proprieties of this plant will help clear up the outbreaks, even those deep acne cysts.
In western folk medicine it is recommended to mix two peeled and chopped cloves of garlic with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and a teaspoon of honey and eating this in the morning on an empty stomach to keep your asthma under control.
Colds and Flu
To get rid of the flu you can mix in a blender 3 cloves of garlic, with 1/3 cup of olive oil and one teaspoon of lemon juice. Blend until smooth and take a teaspoon of this mix every hour or two. Keep refrigerated for three days, but no longer than that.
Cut a garlic clove in half and place it directly on the cold sore for 10 minutes, several times a day. The acidity may cause a bit of initial discomfort.
Many herbalists recommend adding cooked and raw garlic to your daily diet to aid digestion, cure diarrhea and ease constipation. It stimulates intestinal movement and the secretion of digestive juices.
The persistent tightness and itching caused by psoriasis can be eased or even prevented by garlic’s anti-inflammatory properties. The active compounds will interact with arachidonic acid, an omega fatty acid in the skin linked to psoriasis. Rub garlic oil directly on affected areas once or twice a day.
Related article: How to make antibiotic garlic tincture
Cut a thin slice off a garlic clove, place it on the distressed area and secure with a tape. Leave on for several hours or overnight. The combination of garlic and adhesive should draw the splinter (or shard of glass) to the surface for easy removal. Garlic’s antibacterial properties will also help keep out infection and soreness.
Use it as fish bait
Purchase small marshmallows and put them in a bowl of garlic powder or crushed garlic and roll them around until they are well-covered. Use the marshmallows as bait for carp, trout, catfish, bass and other fish.
Use it as flea Deterrent
Grate small amounts of fresh garlic and mix it with your dog’s food. Don’t overdo it as it may be harmful for some dogs. Also check your pet store for garlic and brewers yeast capsules, which when taken orally discourage fleas from biting.
Use it as pesticide
Pesticide recipe 1
Add in blender 8 cloves of garlic, 4 cayenne peppers and 3 cups of hot water. Blend well and let stand for at least 5 hours, and then strain the mixture. Pour the strained mixture in a container with a plastic lid and add 1 tablespoon of liquid castile soap and stir thoroughly. This is a potent mixture use about 3 tablespoons in a small spray bottle filled with water and apply to your plants. Apply during the cool part of the day as many times as needed.
Pesticide recipe 2
Mince 4 garlic cloves and let them sit in 2 tablespoons of mineral oil for 24 hours. Strain out the garlic and add it together with a teaspoon of liquid dish soap to a pint of water. Apply during the cool part of the day as many times as needed.
How to get rid of garlic breath
Many people are reluctant of eating garlic because of its most common side effect, garlic breath, but there are some remedies to get rid of the bad breath and here are just a few:
- Chewing on a sprig of fresh parsley or mint
- Chewing on a coffee bean
- Sucking on a lemon
- Sipping green or mint tea
- Drinking milk with your meal
How to remove the garlic smell from your hands
After cooking with it, you will notice your hands smell a little different. To remove the smell from your hands you can try the following:
- Scrub your hands with coffee grounds
- Wash your hands with baking soda and water paste
- Scrub your hands with salt and lemon juice
Stay Safe and Happy Gardening!
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