(Genus: Allium sativum - Family: Amaryllidaceae)
Garlic and its origins
The true origins of garlic are unknown as it is difficult to establish the origins of its wild progenitor. It was possibly in the hills of Kazakhstan. In ancient times, it was used by the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. It is a cultivar of the Allium genus and closely related to the onion, shallot, leek and chive.
Garlic is now used across the globe in all types of cuisine and is one of the basic flavours of Italian cookery but also heavily influences Asian cuisine, in addition to being a key ingredient in other Mediterranean countries.
How to Plant Garlic
Garlic thrives in a warm temperate climate; it can grow all year round in milder conditions. The optimum temperature for germination is 15-19°C.
Garlic is easy to cultivate. Multiplication is done by placing single cloves directly in the ground. Select the largest cloves which are more likely to survive. Place in the soil towards the surface with the clove slightly protruding from the soil. It should not be buried in soil. Cloves can be planted in close proximity, approximately 15cm apart and in rows with 30cm spacing.
Plant the cloves from October to February, choosing the latest possible time for colder climates, avoiding late frosts; this will produce fresh garlic during the spring.
Soil should be a light texture, loose and fertile, rich in organic matter with no stagnant water and receiving full daylight. Prepare the soil well in advance, fertilise using xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxx (xx g/m²), repeating this process with a higher dosage (xx g/m²) when the bulb begins to germinate.
Alternatively, use xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx (xx-xxg/m²) as soon as foliage appears. Where possible, avoid organic fertilisers because they may cause root rot.
Rainwater is normally sufficient to meet the plant’s irrigation requirements. However, in particularly warm weather, watering may be beneficial to encourage development. Avoid wetting the leaves.
When to harvest Garlic
Garlic is a bulbous perennial which is commonly grown as an annual thanks to the ease with which it can be propagated. The flower is a spherical shape consisting of a bloom of small white flowers. The stem is tall, rigid and smooth with long green leaves. The edible section is, in fact, the bulb, made up of several internal cloves. It can produce up to a dozen cloves in a single bulb.
The bulbs are ready to harvest when the foliage begins to turn a yellow or brown colour and dries out. It is best to initially harvest a single garlic bulb to test whether they are ready for harvesting. Slice the bulb in half and check how the cloves have developed, if they fill their skin, the garlic crop is ready to harvest.
Did you know
Garlic is packed full of vitamins and has many medicinal benefits. It is used widely in cooking to add a rich and sweet flavour to sauces and a wide variety of dishes.
It contains allicin, a substance which is responsible for the characteristically strong odour and high bacterial value. It is created during a chemical reaction which occurs when a clove is cut or is crushed.
According to legend, Garlic was a powerful tool for protection against witchcraft and magic. It was used to ward off witches and vampires. It was often used on the night of the 23rd June to protect from witch activity on June 24th.