Gardening Magazine

Grow Your Own Garlic

By Sophiecussen

My head is all over the place at the moment. I’m just about to embark on a journey (from my Life Ticket), that has been in the planning for nearly a year. Unfortunately I’m rather nervous about flying on this trip (it’s actually more like full on hysterical fear), but I don’t won’t to bore you with those details.

Instead, and as always, the one place that always keeps me calm and happy is the garden..

Cultivation Time

Just the other day I finally planted the garlic sets into one of our raised beds.

Now before any fellow crop cultivators scream at me, yes I know – I’ve planted them too early. Or too late.

Garlic is usually planted in Autumn (Sept to Dec in the UK), or Spring (March to May). As it’s January I’m clearly lacking some sort of calendar problem. However my premise behind doing this is a trial really. The weather has been so ‘odd’ of late that today’s weather isn’t that far off from the weather we had in Dec so why not now add them now I thought?!  Update:-Apparently, I’ve read, November to April is okay to plant too – excellent!  Rule of thumb for best crop is to get them in before Christmas though – bah!

Why grow garlic?

When you’ve got only a small patch of ground to cultivate crops in every area is vital to grow something that is worthy of the space it’s taking up. My own personal cultivation rules (which are still very much in development), go something like this:
Doesn’t matter if it’s easy to grow of not but it must adhere to at least most, if not all of the following:

  • Be of better quality than shop bought, or growing it must cost less than shop bought
  • Yields well in smaller spaces
  • Be of nutritional value (greens are a casing point)
  • Something that we not just mediocre like, but absolutely love to eat or use in cooking
  • Has a long harvest or long storage ability
  • Can be grown without any use of pesticides (goes without saying really), and fits into the general ongoing permaculture of the garden, including feeding and watering of the crops.
  • Where possible is native to the area, or the country.

And garlic goes something like this:

  1. I love to eat garlic, it’s also very beneficial to fighting cancer, heart disease, diabetes and infections because it’s just packed full of vitamins and other positive nutritional elements.
  2. I use a lot of garlic when cooking as it’s so delicious, which means I always need a constant supply
  3. A garlic bulb (from a supermarket) currently costs anywhere between 30p to £1.50 depending on time of year, where it has come from and whether it’s organic or not. 30p is pretty cheap right? I bought a set of three garlic bulbs from a local garden center for £2.99, from that 33 cloves have now been planted. Now I’m not expecting all 33 to grow but if they did – 33/2.99 makes each clove 0.09p (or 99 per whole bulb). That’s roughly 332% cheaper than the cheapest garlic bought at the garden center. Or to put it another way, it would take over 3 of my home grown garlic sets to make the supermarket 30p garlic. Even by adding in compost, extra watering and fertilizer one bulb is never going to cost me 30p to grow. So it’s a win win already.
  4. If I’m luck again this yr I’ll also get garlic tops (scapes) to use in cooking as well – meaning you get two for one on garlic growing making it very suitable for smaller spaces.
  5. Are perfect for growing in pots, containers and raised beds.
  6. If properly stored, garlic fully grown and picked will last…well so far my bulbs have lasted five months!

Identifying the history of our common garlic bulb is rather difficult because all garlic, called allium is cultivated from wild allium, and so it has no origin as such. Research has suggested that the cultivation may have begun in central Asia (anywhere from Kazakhstan to Afghanistan) but as wild allium can be found on continents from Europe to America it’s difficult to be conclusive.

It’s been somewhat ridiculed as a culinary addition, some religions such as Hindu and Janisim have avoided using garlic at all costs as these religions believe eating it stimulates and increases bodily desires. Buddhists also refrain as they believe eating garlic would move the the mind away from mindful meditation.

Garlic is also well known (through out history) for keeping away vampires and other nasty spirits, a force against good and evil, so clearly it’s a vegetable not to be trifled with!

It’s also believed to be good for one other thing – keeping mosquitoes away.

Now, there is no evidence to prove this but unless I was just exceptionally lucky last summer, I didn’t get bitten by a mosquito once. I even tested the theory by sitting out in the garden, at dusk, just as the temperatures were cool enough to encourage the pesky insects. Nothing, not one bite. I did it again, and still nothing so you tell me – is it a natural repellent? I like to think so.

So I’m totally up for garlic growing. What about you?

_____________________________

Call to Cultivation Action 2014

Last year I set down a  very important challenge to try and get more people to grow their own fruit and veg, herbs and spices.  I wanted to get 25 people that had never grown anything before, or who believed they didn’t have any space – to grow just 1 crop.

My quest to to try and help, support and inspire people to grow their own continues into 2014.

To do that I need your help.  

Many of you have already spoken to me or been in contact to tell me how well your own growing is going.  In many cases you’ve said how much you really enjoyed growing all sorts of different crops and you’d like to be able to expand, and grow more which is like music to my ears.

However if you know of anyone – family, friends, neighbours, colleagues…that look like they eat too much crap and don’t know a strawberry from a swede, who never use herbs for anything, or can’t identify one single plant in their garden then please pass this blog onto them.

Share the blog as much as humanely possibly.  That is all I ask.

The more people that read the blog, the more people we can get growing.  That in turn ultimately means – a better food system, healthier people and more cash to spend.


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