Garlic, the wonder bulb, is actually
an onion with a compound bulb made up of four to 15 cloves. From ancient
Pharaohs to modern pharmacists, garlic is considered one of the most important
herbs for feeding and healing the human body. Throughout history garlic has
been considered a powerful herb to fight inflammation, stop infections, kill
parasites and restore vitality. The role of garlic as an antiviral and
antibacterial is unsurpassed from ancient days to modern times. Garlic can help
heal injuries like bites, cuts and burns, while quite possibly sooth headaches,
lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, acne, boils, arthritis, candida,
respiratory ailments, the common cold and earaches. It can protect the
digestive tract by inhibiting dysentery-causing amoebas and other infections.
Studies have shown that garlic may reduce the risk of coronary artery disease,
help to lower total and LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, inhibit platelet
aggregation and reduce blood pressure.
When chewed or crushed a powerful antibiotic chemical is released.
Garlic may not act as powerfully or quickly as antibiotics but neither does it
produce the side effects that antibiotics do. While garlic can be as effective
in fighting serious infections, its main use is in fighting ailments that are
not acute or immediately life threatening. Small discomforts may signal an
ideal time to load up on fresh or supplemental garlic. Studies have shown that
eating less than an ounce of garlic a week can help lower your risk of certain
types of cancer and a clove per day can lower your cholesterol in as little as
four weeks. (Energy Times, March
Growing Garlic in the Home Garden
HYG-1627-92 Charles T. Behnke
sativum) is a hardy perennial member of the onion family. Garlic is probably
native to Central Asia but has long been naturalized in Southern Europe. Garlic
differs from the onion, producing a number of small bulbs called cloves rather
than one large bulb.
Each bulb contains a dozen or more cloves, and is
covered with a thin white skin. The larger outer cloves produce the best
garlic. Garlic has flat leaves rather than the round hollow leaves of the
Garlic is used largely as a condiment and as flavoring in
gravies, tomato sauces, soups, stews, pickles, salads, salad dressing and
breads. Many cooks find it indispensable in the kitchen. Garlic powder is made
from ground dehydrated cloves and is used widely as a substitute for fresh
garlic. Garlic powder is also used by the meat packing industry in prepared
Garlic grows best on friable (crumbly) loamy soils that are
fertile and high in organic matter. Gardeners who can grow onions can grow
garlic since the culture is similar.
Garlic does well with high amounts
of fertilizer. As a general recommendation, apply three pounds of 10-10-10
fertilizer per 100 square feet.
The soil must be kept evenly moist as
dry soil will cause irregularly shaped bulbs. Heavy clay soils will also create
misshaped bulbs and make harvesting difficult. Add organic matter, such as
well-rotted manure or compost to the soil on a yearly basis to keep it friable.
Garlic must be planted very early in the season in northern climates
to permit full leaf development. Later spring planting is not successful. It
has been found that long days and warm temperatures favor bulb development in
the garlic plant. As soon as bulbing starts, leaf initiation ceases.
For highest yields, therefore, the cloves must be planted early enough
to permit the development of large vegetative plants during the short cool
days. The yield potential of the plants depends on the amount of vegetative
growth before bulbing commences. Select only larger outer cloves for the best
Garlic seed is not available and is rarely produced by plants.
Be sure that the cloves are free of disease and are smooth and fresh. Plant
garlic cloves three to five inches apart in an upright position in the row and
set them at a depth of one-half to one inch deep. Setting the bulbs in an
upright position ensures a straight neck.
Be sure to allow 18 to 30
inches between the rows. Do not divide the bulbs into cloves until you are
ready to plant since early separation results in decreased yields.
bulbs may be harvested when the tops start to dry. Bulbs should be dug up
rather than pulled to avoid stem injury. Allow the tops to dry. After the bulbs
have dried, the tops and roots can be removed with shears to within an inch of
It is essential that the garlic be well cured before going
into storage. The mature bulbs are best stored at 32 degrees F. Garlic stores
well under a wide range of temperatures, but sprouts are produced most quickly
at temperatures at or above 40 degrees F. The humidity in storage should be
near 65 to 70 percent at all times to discourage mold development and root
formation. Cloves should keep for six to seven months.
There are few
pest problems with garlic. Occasionally, the onion maggot larva can be seen in
the garlic cloves upon harvesting. The typical symptom is premature dying of
the leaf tips. Control involves sanitation since sprays are not available.
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