We all know that vegetables are good for us, right? The one that we manage to produce at home and we put our time and effort into it usually tastes even better than the one we buy. Not many vegetables can surpass the garlic in its health benefits. So this post is my ode to homegrown garlic. All my attention and efforts were repaid this past week when I harvested my garlic. Garlic’s health benefits were known long before Google. They were known and written about in the old Egypt and also by the ancient Greeks and Romans. It’s also well known in Chinese medicine.
Bad breath of health
If not long ago garlic was mostly known as a source of bad breath (especially after a good meal of seafood with Trieste sauce (parsley, olive oil, and garlic)). Nowadays we tend to call it a natural antibiotic because it’s known to kill a wide range of bacteria. Garlic is not used only to fight flue or seasonal cold but also reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by regulating blood pressure and reducing blood cholesterol levels.
Some research has shown that garlic also contains antioxidants that could prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The use of garlic can also accelerate the removal of heavy metals from the body.
Even before all the scientific background, garlic was a very popular vegetable in Slovenian and other gardens around the globe. Due to its distinct taste, it often finds a place in culinary recipes. This way we can easily hide the “medicine” right in our lunch.
Moving to a house because of the garlic
Garlic in the garden or it’s disappearing from it was also the reason that I moved to House by the Woods. My grandmother used to take care of the garden by the house and at one time she started noticing that garlic started disappearing from the beds. It was obvious that someone has noticed that the house was uninhibited and has seized the opportunity to get free vegetables from the garden. This was all without asking of course. 😉 So I offered myself to move to the house and look over the garden for the season. My stay has been prolonged and I’m still here, now also taking care of the garden by myself.
Grow your own garlic
I’m growing Poetovian spring garlic in my garden. It’s a heritage Slovenian variety that is most similar to Sicilian silverskin garlic. Spring garlic doesn’t mean that I plant it in the fall and pick young plants in the spring (as you would do with spring onions) but it means that I plant the garlic in the early spring and harvest it in late summer. My variety stores great and enables me to use it for the whole season right until the next harvest. I’m planning to try other varieties of garlic and to compare the taste and storage time to my current variety.
I planted my garlic cloves in March. If I were to plant the more common “Winter garlic” as we call it, I would have to plant it in the fall. This is something that I really like about the spring garlic – I can plan my garden during the winter and decide in the spring where I’m going to plant the first vegetables along with the garlic.
It’s said the garlic doesn’t like fertilized soil. However I still lightly fertilize my garlic with decomposed manure during the growing season. I also scatter wood ash multiple times on the garlic. My family (as well as many others in Slovenia) believes that wood ash has beneficial effects on the plant growing in the garden and that it protects them from pests and diseases. So I scatter wood ash on my garlic to prevent the online fly damage and also in case if the tips of the leaves are starting to turn yellow.
Besides the simple procedure described above, I don’t pay much attention to the garlic during its growth. Once it’s location in the garden is decided (this year I grew my garlic among my strawberries) I mostly leave it alone for the bigger part of the season.
Harvesting and storing the garlic
I harvested the garlic on Friday, August 8th. After I removed it from the ground in the morning I left it outside to dry during the day. After a quick clean (I removed the dirt with a glove without any water) I braided my first garlic braid. Ever since I can remember garlic and onion are being braided in our home. If the process is a bit more complicated with the onions and requires the use of a string, it’s fairly easy to braid garlic. Garlic braid is the same as regular hair braid. You intertwine three garlic stems and add new garlic head with a stem on every outer loop. I braided garlic for the first time. My first garlic braid is not perfect, but it’s mine. 🙂
Hang the garlic braid in a shady and airy area. Garlic, stored in this manner will last until next spring and serve as a natural antibiotic and a great spice during the upcoming winter. Until next spring we try to preserve a few garlic heads since their cloves will serve as seeds for next year’s planting. Divide the garlic heads in February or March and plant the cloves in the garden. Make sure that the cloves are turned the right way – the bottom part of the clove should also be facing down when planted. And this is hot the garlic planting circle comes to its closure.
Short garlic ID
Special growing needs: early planting (February) of spring varieties and late planting (October) of winter varieties
Adult plant height: up to 50cm
Storing the garlic: braiding the garlic in garlic braids or drying
Why would you want to consume garlic? One of the healthiest and tastiest plants in the garden. As a natural antibiotic, it protects us from cold and flu. It also reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by regulating blood pressure and reducing blood cholesterol levels. Garlic is indispensable in the kitchen – it can be found it mostly all soup, gravy and even some salad recipes. Some people even consume it on an empty stomach because it should make its benefits even stronger.
Conclusion: Mandatory plant for (even the smallest) garden!