Garlic Family Name: Liliaceae
Botanical Name(s): Allium sativum
Popular Name(s): Garlic, Lashan, Rasonam, Lashuna, Veluthulli, Ugragandha, Mlecchagandha, Lesan.
Parts Used: Bulb and Oil.
Habitat: It is a native of southwest Siberia and southern Europe.
Description: The leaves are long, narrow and flat like grass. The bulb (the only part eaten) is of a compound nature, consisting of numerous bulblets, known technically as 'cloves,' grouped together between the membranous scales and enclosed within a whitish skin, which holds them as in a sac.
Uses: Garlic is often applied to indolent tumors, ulcerated surfaces and wounds. A poultice of the bulb is used for scrofulous sores and ringworm. A clove of Garlic when introduced into the ear passage gives relief of earache. It is locally used in sciatica, paralysis and neuralgic pains. Raw Garlic juice is inhaled in whooping cough and pulmonary tuberculosis.
How To Grow
Garlic flavors range from the mild Elephant Garlic (which is related to leeks, and not a true garlic), to hot and spicy varieties such as Chesnok Red. In addition to a wide range of flavors, there are also two types of garlic - hardneck and softneck. Use their general attributes listed below to determine which type you would like to grow before acquiring your initial stock. Since garlic readily reproduces, once you have an established crop, you can easily save your own cloves for subsequent years.
SN = Softneck HN = Hardneck
- SN Garlic natively stores longer
- HN Garlic tends to do better in colder climates
- Some SN garlic produces many small cloves that may require more peeling to use or process
- HN Garlic produces 'flower' scapes that are used for cooking, and that should be cut off of the plant in order to ensure larger bulbs
- SN Garlic is the type of garlic used in making garlic braids
The two main planting times is mid-autumn, when the ground has not yet frozen, and early spring as soon as the ground can be worked. Generally speaking, planting in autumn will give you larger bulbs, but the closer to a 'long season, warm' climate that one gets, the less this matters.
Note: If the paper-like wrappers have mold on them, it is best to just eat the garlic and get new planting stock. If this is not an option, one can peel the wrapper off of the cloves and soak the cloves in a 10% solution of bleach (one part household bleach to 9 parts water) for 10 minutes. Let air dry before planting. Be sure to not recontaminate your garlic after soaking.
- Wait until you are ready to plant before separating your garlic cloves.
- Remove wrappers or not, as is your liking
- Plant 3 to 4 inches deep - In very cold climates, plant an inch deeper.
- Plant 'pointy side up'
- If you are growing in rows, plant about 5 - 6 inches apart - enough space to where there will be about 1 inch between the mature bulbs
- If you are growing in a polyculture, plant a small group using the same spacing, maybe growing in a small ring or triangle.
- Water deeply
- Some very cold climate people mulch their garlic
- Garlic does not like fertilization during the summer - too much nitrogen equals lots of leaf growth and lest bulb build up
- Decreasing water in mid- to late summer also helps the garlic to bulb up
Garlic Scapes If you are growing hardneck garlic, the 'flower scapes' will first appear on short stems and be pointing skyward. The stem portion will continue to elongate. At some point the stem will curl into a circle. This is the point that you will need to remove the scape. You do not need to remove all of its stem - but you do need to remove all of the bud. (The scape does not really contain a flower. The bud is filled with tiny, immature bulbs called bulbills. One can actually plant them, but it may take a long time to get a good sized bulb from one.)
- Harvest when the lower 1/3 to 1/2 of the leaves are yellow to brown, but while the leaves on the tops are green
- If possible, harvest on a dry day, and several days after the last rain
- Do not pull the garlic out of the ground by the stem, but dig around and under it
- You may eat the garlic raw or cooked at this time; however, if you wish to store the garlic, you will need to cure them
Curing & Storing
- Do not wash or wet the garlic once it is out of the ground
- Brush off as much of the dirt as easily comes off; however, you do not need to be fanatical about it
- Do not trim the leaves
- Dry in bunches of 5 or 6 plants out of direct sun for several weeks. One way of doing this would be to tie a half dozen plants together and hang in a barn or covered porch.
- Air circulation is key
- If you start getting mold, remove that whole bunch (even if only one shows mold) and either use them right away, or remove skins and otherwise preserve them (in canned or frozen spaghetti sauce is one way to use a significant amount of garlic). The key is to not contaminate any of the other bulbs
- After curing, garlic will last about 6 months in a cool, dry place
- Do not store in the refrigerator - the cool temperatures signal the garlic to start putting down roots and sprout
- Freezing garlic
- Freeze whole bulbs or cloves (still in wrappers) wrapped in plastic wrap or in freezer bags
- Puree or chop with olive or other oil and freeze in ice trays - when frozen pop out and put in a freezer bag
- Slice thin and dehydrate
- Pickle or add to a pickled vegetable mix
As a Remedy
(Courtesy of Zayantegirl) Garlic is one of the oldest remedies known. Its sulfur and volatile oils make it a potent antiseptic, both internal and external. It stimulates the immune system and also has anti-parasitic properties for humans and animals, is beneficial to the liver and respiratory tract. It is effective for maintaining healthy cholesterol levels and lowering blood pressure.
Adding garlic to your meals is a great way to take advantage of the numerous medicinal properties that garlic possess. The active ingredients in garlic may diminish somewhat with cooking, but they will still be present.
Garlic can be made into a tincture. It can be pickled (with Tamari and vinegar), and it can be made into an herbal oil as well.
Growing garlic is easy. It needs a sunny area with good drainage. It will tolerate partial shade for part of the day, but needs time in the sun. It prefers a loamy soil, rich in compost and manure. In fact if you were to plant garlic in manure, it would do very well. If the soil is acidic, add a light dusting of ash before planting. They like a near neutral pH, 6.5-7.
Do not plant cloves from the grocery store. They may be unsuited varieties for your area, and most are treated to make their shelf life longer, making them harder to grow. Instead, get cloves from a mail order seed company or a local nursery.
There are several types of garlic.
Soft-neck types do well where there are mild winters, some will tolerate cold down to zone 5. Varieties would include, Creole, artichoke and many Asian varieties.
Hard-neck types can adapt to cold climates. Popular varieties include porcelain, purple stripe and rocambole.
Elephant varieties produce large, mild bulbs. They are closely related to leeks, and are hardy to zone 5 if given deep winter mulch.
Plant garlic in the fall after the first frost has passed and the soil is cool. Late Winter planting is possible as soon as soil thaws, but Fall produces bugger, more flavorful bulbs.The soil should be free of weeds, or the heads will be small. When ready to plant, separate the individual cloves of garlic, leave the papery covering on the cloves, it will help inhibit sprouting and protect the clove from mold. Plant the cloves 4 inches deep and 6-8 inches apart with the pointed ends up. Cover the planted area with 3-5 inches of organic mulch such as hay or leaves.
Start watching the plants from early to mid summer. When approx. 1/3 of the leaves look pale and withered, they can be harvested.Use a digging fork to loosen the soil before harvesting. Handle the bulbs gently to avoid bruising them. Lay the whole plants out to dry in a warm, airy spot that is protected from rain and direct sun. After a week or so, brush off soil from the bulbs with your hands, and use pruning shears to clip roots to half an inch long. Wait another week before clipping off the stems of hard-neck varieties or trimming and braiding soft-necks into clusters. Do not remove the papery outer wrappers, as these inhibit sprouting and protect the cloves from rotting.
When stored at 50-60 degrees (F), rocamboles store about four months, other hard-neck garlic varieties usually last six months, and soft-neck and elephant garlic store for eight months or more. Hang the cured crop in mesh bags, or braid soft-neck types and suspend from rafters in a cool, dry basement or garage.
As the garlic is harvested and cured, set aside the biggest and best bulbs as “seed” stock. One pound of cured bulbs will break into about 50 individual cloves, which is enough to plant a 25-foot-long double row.
- Organic garlic
- Raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar (or Vodka, the apple cider vinegar is preferred).
Chop garlic, add to blender, add apple cider vinegar until it is a slurry the consistency of applesauce.
Pour into clean Mason jar(s), keep in a cool, dark place. Shake the jar(s) two to 3 times a day. Let it sit for at least 2 to 3 months, strain, using cheesecloth, or a tincture press.
How to use antibiotic garlic tincture
This tincture has a vast number of reported health benefits. It can be used externally for the treatment of viral skin infections, wounds or ulcers. In the old ways, it was commonly used as an adequate remedy for flu and colds, viruses, strep, worms, high blood pressure, kidney and bladder problems and respiratory ailments when taken orally.
The recommended dosage of antibiotic garlic tincture for adults is four to five drops of tincture once a day.
As contraindications and side effects, please keep in mind the following:
- This tincture is not recommended for people on blood thinning medications
- Garlic tincture is not recommended for those suffering from anti-coagulation disorders
- You may experience dizziness, nausea, and sweating after excessive intake of garlic tincture
- Garlic tincture may cause menstrual changes
- Just to be sure you are on the safe side if you suffer from any known ailments check with your personal medic before taking garlic tincture.
- Rosemary Gladstar's Family Herbal, A Guide to Living with Energy, Health, and Vitality -- Storey Publishing, 2001, ISBN 1-58017-425-6
- Mother Earth News: Growing Garlic
Where to purchase garlic sets