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In this series I’m compiling the quick and dirty info on growing specific vegetables. Just the basics. No fluff, no frills. When you’re sitting down in the late Winter, surrounded by seed catalogs, and your garden plan in front of you, you want a quick reference. How far apart can you plant? What pH do they need? How much water? What vegetables can you plant next to others? Which should you avoid?
This quick and dirty 30 second guide to Garlic should help you answer all those questions quickly, without having to sort through article after article. I’ve always wanted a quick cheat sheet like this, so hopefully you’ll find it useful too!
Garlic will always hold a special place in my heart. Childhood memories are permeated with the smell of dried, papery onion skins and fresh garlic. I love when the smell of garlic cooking in butter fills my kitchen and the rest of my house. You might have to for-go kissing anyone for awhile, but if you BOTH have garlic breath…
Store-bought garlic is sinful. Most is imported from China, where it’s grown in human-manure (nothing against humanure, but I’d like to be sure it’s full composted before given to my garlic). More than 80% of the world’s garlic is produced in China. It’s often bleached to give the paper that white, crispness and irradiated to extend it’s shelf-life.
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather my food not be chemically sprayed or irradiated.
The great this about garlic is that after you buy your initial seed stock, you can get a FREE endless supply of garlic for the rest of your life! Simply set aside your biggest, best producing heads of garlic during harvest time, split the head into separate cloves and plant in the fall (6 weeks before your first frost). Come Spring, you’ll have a new head where each clove was buried.
I bought my seed stock from Amazon (link here) and had great results. Try out different verities!
Medicinal Benefits of Garlic
The main medicinal constituents in garlic are: alliin, allicin, ajoene, allinase, terpenes, B vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidant flavonoids, sulfur, selenium and phosphorus. It’s medicinal history goes back some 7,000 years, where it was found in Paleolithic caves.
A very simple tea can be made from the flower of the garlic plant and aids in circulation and increased vitality. The aromatics in garlic that give it it’s distinct scent dilates blood vessels, increasing circulation, reducing blood pressure, encouraging blood flow and making oxygenated blood pump more readily through the entire body. Studies have shown that eating one clove of garlic daily for 4-6 weeks can lower blood pressure – making it an excellent natural remedy for hypertension in pregnancy.
When you’re preparing garlic for medicinal use, keep in mind that the sulfur-rich compounds that provide those benefits are the plant’s natural defense mechanism against attack. Therefore, you must crush or chop the garlic and expose it to air for 3-5 minutes so the compounds can oxidize and become available to you.
In addition to lowering blood pressure, studies have show that eating 1-2 cloves a day can lower serum cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels and increases good cholesterol (HDL). This proves garlic’s effect on the liver, which is the primary player in regulating cholesterol levels. In addition to regulating cholesterol levels, studies have shown that people who take garlic regularly often have lower and more stable blood sugar levels – another side effect of a healthy liver.
Back in the heart, however, garlic has been proven to halt and even reverse (sometimes) the hardening of arteries caused by increased cholesterol plaque and calcification. It also has anti-clotting effects in the blood in large doses.
Have you heard of garlic honey or fire cider? Many people soak cloves of garlic in honey or vinegar and take medicinally to prevent and treat colds and flus. In fact, in Mexico, a folk remedy for a cold is a tea made out of cinnamon and garlic. There’s more to this practice than mothers’ remedies. Garlic has 18 known antibacterial constituents and has been shown to have antimicrobial activities throughout the body on viruses, bacteria, protozoa, yeast and fungi!
In fact, several sources say that a garlic suppository inserted into the vagina can help treat vaginal yeast infections. It is also useful for treating menstrual camps, weakness during menstruation, amenorrhea, morning sickness and hot flashes.
The volatile oils in garlic have also been shown to be excreted through the lungs, making it especially effective in treating respiratory infections and illnesses. It’s also an expectorant, helping the body to thin and expel phlegm in the respiratory system.
In addition to treating the lungs, it can also be used juiced or in an oil to relieve muscle aches and pains and in the ear to treat ear pain and infections. In addition to a drop of garlic oil or juice inside of the ear, you can also rub it along the eustachian tubes on the outside of the neck.
Garlic juice or oil can also be used to treat athletes foot, especially when paired with tea tree oil.
For more info on the medicinal uses of garlic, including links to the clinical studies, or for in-depth information on any other medicinal herb, check out Herbal Academy’s Herbarium. For $45 per YEAR, you get a library of well researched, thoughtful herbal information:
Culinary Uses of Garlic
There are thousands of recipes that include garlic on the interwebs. I’ll be sure to update this post with any new ones that I post, but in addition to cooking with garlic, you can also eat the scapes.
Garlic scapes are the immature flower of the garlic plant that appears just before harvest. You want to cut these off so that the plant focuses it’s energy into developing the garlic bulb, instead of the flower. Since you’re pruning these scapes anyway, you might as well eat them too!
Check out my post on What Garlic Scapes Are and How to Prune Them
And my Pickled Garlic Scapes recipe.
Growing Garlic For Profit
Craig from Profitable Plants Digest has written a bunch of articles on growing crops, including garlic, for profit. He says you can make $8 per square foot of garlic! With how low maintenance it is throughout the growing season, and how simple harvesting more for the following year is, if you have the room, there’s an easy potential for passive income.
If you’re thinking about growing for restaurants and Farmer’s Markets, try growing unique varietals. Do a side-by-side taste test!
The medicinal benefits, culinary benefits and simply ease-of-growing make garlic a top grower for new gardeners and homesteaders.
Growing garlic this year? Here’s what you need to know:
1/2 inch a week. Stop watering 3 weeks before harvest.
In the Fall a month before the ground freezes
Beets, Kale, Spinach, Potatoes, Carrot, Tomatoes, Peppers, Cabbage
Avoid Planting With
Beans, Asparagus, Peas, Sage, Parsley
4 inches – just enough room that the head can expand.
Mulch heavily over Winter. Cut off flowers (scapes) when they appear. EAT.
Harvest when the tops begin to yellow and droop; usually 6-7 months.
Saving The Seeds
Let dry for at least two weeks in a dry, shady area. Each head of garlic can then be broken up into individual cloves, which can be planted next year.