Growing Garlic

Growing Garlic

Garlic (Allium sativum) is a perennial plant of the amaryllis family. It includes onions, scallions, shallots, leeks, and chives. Growing garlic is easy to do. The trick is that it takes two growing seasons to produce large, beautiful garlic bulbs.

I planted garlic cloves last fall. I planted them in 5 rows, buried them about an inch deep. I left them over the winter, didn’t have to do much except pull a few occasional weeds.

When spring arrived, they looked like this. Green stalks that were about a foot tall. This is how I grew the garlic.

garlic growing in garden

In the late spring, the green stalks started to turn brown and die. I wasn’t sure how long to leave the garlic in the ground at this point. I didn’t want to pull them out prematurely, before the bulbs had completely formed. So I just kept an eye on them as the days went by.

garlic growing in a garden

You can see that the stems have gotten very brown and dry. It’s now the third week of June, so I used a shovel to loosen the bulbs from the ground. Don’t pull the stalks, they will break off. Loosen the soil around the bulbs, careful not to place the shovel too close to the plant and accidentally cut into the bulb.

I pulled up beautiful garlic!

garlic pulled from garden

I brought the garlic onto the deck, and left it outside to dry for a day.

garlic pulled from garden

Here is a bulb that is still dirty. I cut off the stem.

garlic bulb

I brushed the bulbs with a dry vegetable brush, then carefully peeled off the very outer layers to reveal these beautiful, pristine garlic bulbs!

garlic bulb

Getting the Most from Cooking Garlic

Garlic has many health benefits, but whether or not you get all the benefits depends on how you prepare it. Did you know that if you press or mince the cloves, and let it rest for 10 minutes that it has many more health benefits? These properties are antioxidant, antibacterial, antiviral, anti-clogging and anti-cancer.

And the best way to get the full benefits from the garlic is to press it with a garlic press. The mincing helps infuse the flavor throughout the dish. It also helps the compounds interact to create allicin. Two compounds found in garlic are inactive until they are combined during pressing, chopping or chewing. One is a protein fragment called alliin and the other is a heat-sensitive enzyme called alliinase. If you put the freshly mashed garlic into heat, the enzyme alliinase is destroyed by the heat, therefore the beneficial allicin is never created.  For this reason, it is best to rest mashed or minced garlic for 10 minutes before getting it hot. It takes only 10 minutes for the compounds to create allicin and the heat-sensitive enzyme is no longer needed.

Healing Properties of Garlic

Garlic has many healing properties. Consuming it on a daily basis, cooked or raw helps lower cholesterol. Allicin, which is formed once the garlic is mashed or chewed, helps regulate blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Garlic cleanses the system and flushes toxins from the digestive tract. Some use it as a bug repellent. Gardeners sometimes plant it around the perimeter of their vegetable garden to deter gophers. It is enriched with vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, folate, C, calcium, iron and many other minerals.

Storing Garlic

You can store garlic for 2 to 3 months.The easiest way to store garlic at home is in mesh bags or loosely woven baskets or it can be stored in jars with holes. Don’t keep it in plastic bags or containers without holes, completely cutting off air circulation which can lead to rot or mold problems. It keeps longest when stored at 60 to 65 degrees and in moderate humidity.

So use garlic on a daily basis to promote health. Cook it or eat raw. But remember if your are cooking with it, let it rest 10 minutes before getting it hot.


*Sources for this article:
Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson
Rodale’s Organic Life


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