Newest Review: ... the individual cloves start to sprout as you've just put the garlic into its ideal growing environment. Garlic will store for months if... more
Not for vampires or 7 year old girls
Member Name: Stewwydablue
Advantages: Transforms the taste of most foods for the better
Disadvantages: Day after dodgy garlic breath
Both of my daughters reel back in revulsion when I suggest to them that I'm going to use garlic in a recipe, and I can feel their terrified eyes following my every move when I'm cooking. They are horrified by the idea of eating garlic - yet don't actually know what it is as I've done the classic parent thing of lying to my kids (for their own good of course, dad knows best!) and have asked them on many occasions to pass me the "baby onions". Of course, one day I will be found out and will pay for my sins but until then I can justify it by the knowledge that they are getting to eat a food that is packed full of goodness and flavour, and which has many benefits to their growing bodies. Here's some information about how I grow garlic, and what those health benefits are.
I buy a bulb of garlic from a garden centre and break this (carefully) into individual cloves. You can use a garlic bulb from a supermarket, but you don't know what variety you are getting and can't guarantee that whatever variety you have will be a successful grower. The individual cloves are then pushed an inch under the soil, root side down (that's the fat flattened off end) about 10 centimetres apart in October and then basically left until roughly 9 months later into next summer (depending on where you live, they could be ready as early as late June or if you live in Lancashire, well, we're still waiting since 2007 for summer to arrive.) Similar to onions, you'll need to pinch off the flower spikes as they appear because the bulb won't swell if the flowers are allowed to form. Leave all the other foliage in place though - this is how the plant breathes and also a good cover of foliage will help keep weeds down. If you do see weeds growing between your planted cloves, pick them out by hand so as not to disturb the roots of the growing garlic. When the garlic is nice and swollen, leave them in the soil until the foliage dies off and dries out. The bulbs can then be lifted, further dried out - we do the classic French thing of plaiting them along a string and hanging this up in our kitchen. Don't store the bulbs in a fridge - remember that we planted the garlic out in October when it starts to get cold, well this is because garlic is activated by the cold and the fridge will make the individual cloves start to sprout as you've just put the garlic into its ideal growing environment. Garlic will store for months if kept dry and at room temperature.
CARING FOR GARLIC
I've found them to be pretty robust and they don't seem to attract any pests or be prone to disease. They are a useful companion plant around carrots - the smell of the garlic leaves (and also other allium family members like onions and chives) puts off the carrot fly which can ruin a carrot crop. Just try to keep them weed free when growing and don't let them dry out in the warmer months as the bulb is making it's final attempt to swell before the plant dies.
Try not feed them with lots of nitrogen as this will just produce a lot of green leaves and not much in the way a nice fat and juicy bulb. Garlic does well with a high potash feed, but I just use plenty of homemade compost dug into the soil which is a good all round feed.
PROPERTIES OF GARLIC
Garlic can reduce blood pressure, is thought to help reduce cholesterol, reduce the chances of stomach related cancers, and keeps the blood nice and thin. Having dodgy breath the day after is, in my opinion, a small price to pay!
Feared by children and vampires, garlic can pretty much be planted and then forgotten about for 9 months when it will give us a fantastically useful and tasty reward. I'd recommend trying to grow some even if you don't have a garden - try popping a clove into a pot of compost in October and see what happens. Five stars from me, thanks for reading.
Summary: Easy to grow