Garlic originated during the Neolithic Period around 7,000 years ago. From wild form it was one of the first cultivated herbs about 4,000 years ago in Central Asia. It now boasts over 450 varieties. Ancient Egypt was the first great empire to honour the great bulb giving it royal blessings.
As a medicinal herb, Garlic was a staple slave food and also got used for religious and explicit rituals. In King Tutankhamun’s day for 15 pounds of garlic you could buy a healthy male slave. Presumably he was purchased for planting loads more garlic.
Crushed garlic in warm water will relieve mouth ulcers. Garlic contains strong anti-bacterial properties, which is why it became the first choice as an antiseptic treatment during The First World War. It got the nickname Russian Penicillin. One of the first observers of garlic’s antiseptic compounds-at-work was none other than Louis Pasteur. That’s not a bad blessing for this new phenomenon.
Growing up to four feet tall garlic produces white or pink flowers in a spherical umbels at the end of long scapes. The flowers are hermaphrodite so bees and other insects are required to pollinate them.
A garlic and water spray acts as an ideal natural alternative to pesticides. This simple solution is effective on aphids, spiders and many other pesky pests such as whitefly. Garlic also acts as a useful mosquito repellent.
Garlic produces a wonderful sticky juice, which is an effective natural glue for delicate repair jobs on glass and china.
The reason garlic can make your breath smell like the bottom of a bird cage, (or worse!) is because garlic triggers a double assault on the nose. Garlic carries significant amounts of sulphuric compounds such as allyl methyl sulphide. These compounds metabolize into the blood stream and then exude through your pores. This is great for your gut, but they also help feed the microbes in the mouth which cause regular bad breath.
They then get passed into the air in your lungs adding garlic flavoured breathing to the output. This can happen even after cleaning the tongue, but don’t worry. You can neutralize garlic breath with a lemon slice in the mouth or fresh lemon juice.
The good news is that once inside your digestive system, garlic explodes into medicinal action. For starters garlic can thin the blood just like aspirin. Garlic helps provide a natural balance of blood pressure and is one of the best anti-coagulation treatments. It is chock full of trace minerals such as magnesium, iron, zinc and selenium. These all help keep your metabolism in tip top working order.
Garlic is an effective antiviral, antimicrobial, antioxidant, anticancer and lowers cholesterol. It is also better than honey and lemon treatment against the common cold. It also ticks all the boxes for vitamin C, B vitamins and amino acids the building blocks of life. Not bad for a humble bulb grown for centuries to keep vampires from the door!
Plant now! Garlic has no problem planted out in the cold and only requires well drained roots. Work about six inches of a raised bed to get some good compost into the stone free oil. Plant single garlic cloves about 5” part and 1” down. Make sure they get watered well if in a dry bed. They will appreciate good drainage underneath. One clove will grow into more cloves, thus forming a bulb of 5-10 cloves.
Your garlic will get a head start by getting planted before the ground gets too frosty. Keep adding some mulch to act as frost protection. You can always dig-in some extra compost around each clove as they grow. You will soon as sturdy green shoots for spring and, if rot-free, a nice crop come early summer.
You can pull them up once they are a nice, healthy size. With some practice, braid the stems together into a long trail of garlic bulbs ready for hanging. Voila! You’re practically French already!