Allium sativum

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In folklore, garlic, as well as leeks and onions were used to protect against evil and was worn during the Black Plague outbreak in the Middle Ages. While it never proved to work against black death, it could be said that the strong smell of garlic and/or onions was enough to keep people a safer distance apart and it never worked against vampires.

Fun Fact, I am distantly related to John Hunyadi, the “Turk Beater” also known as the man who murdered Vlad Tepes aka Dracual or the Impaler.

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Garlic was also thought to protect people against illness which is how it is used today and has been used for over 7 thousand years I think. It is a native crop to China from the Yunnan province but clearly cultivated around the world and probably one of the most used of all herbs because there are many truths to its power to protect against illnesses.

Garlic as well as onions are everyday staples in my home and when I was growing up it was the one herb that both my ma and dad could agree on and used it in and for just about everything. I was actually very surprised to learn that a lot of people don’t use garlic in their everyday cooking. Call it culture shock and I learned that when I met my husband!

They say that the secret to long life is eating garlic and I have pretty much used it in every dish since I started cooking when I was about 8 years old. To NOT use garlic and onions is like sea water without the salt. Not only does it add more flavor to every dish, it also does have very powerful medicinal properties that have been shown to protect against cancer, stomach illnesses, and help keep your cardiovascular system in good shape by reducing bad cholesterol and triglycerides. It’s one of the worlds most powerful and cheap antioxidants as well a good source to regulate blood sugar and boost testosterone and metabolized iron.

Anti-oxidants are used to rid your blood of oxidative stress which impairs your bloods cells from delivering hemoglobin through your body and is one of the more important aspects of a good cardiovascular heath. Or as my mom would say, “it keeps you young”. Lol. Maybe she was right the whole time. I will be 42 soon and from what I am told, I still look to be in my 20’s. Late 20s but still…

Aside from the common knowledge, my mom had me use garlic for everything. When I think of it I think of My Big Fat Greek Wedding where the dad uses Windex on everything. My mom was like that with garlic. You got a pimple? Rub some garlic on it. Have a patch of uneven skin tone? Rub some garlic on it. Not feeling good, eat some garlic. That, and she would have me use it when I got sun patches on my skin. I used to get white spots on my face from too much sun so it would stand out against my tan skin. TBH, I think it was bleaching my skin so to speak, that or it was turning over new cell growth so that the damaged skin spots would fall away faster. Don’t quote me on any of that as a fact. It’s just what I did and it seemed to work. I do caution however that it does sting a little but it is an anti inflammatory as well SO….

Garlic, of course, can be eaten raw as well as cooked but raw garlic makes your breath smell a little worse for wear. Remedies that I know of to combat garlic and onion breath are to chew a piece of parsley. You know, that piece of green that restaurants put on your plate and to eat an apple. I personally go with the apple because it taste better but parsley (fresh) is cheaper and can be easily grown in your home herbal gardens.

This year will be my first successful year growing garlic at home. In previous years I had failed and that would be because I live in a hot climate and garlic are mild weather crops. Cool weather crops.

To plant, take a clove and push it into the ground. While my book says that they should be planted deep, others have said they can be shallow and I did the latter and it was successful.

The bigger the clove, the bigger the bulbs so plant the biggest ones you have. Plant in the Fall and harvest in the Spring. You don’t have to do anything to them but they prefer nutrient rich organic loose soils that remain somewhat dryer and plant just over a bulbs width apart.

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Garlic belongs to the Amaryllidacae family and is closely related to: onions, leeks, rakkyo and shallots. I think I read that the stalks from garlic are actually considered leeks and they are edible and do produce flowers and are pollinated by bees.

Before harvesting, cut the stalks off to concentrate energy into the bulbs for bigger bulbs. Personally I prefer normal sized cloves. Elephant garlic taste too bitter to me but I will cut the leeks after this late cold spell passes.

All pics are mine but the sketch was taken from The Big, Bad Book of Botany.

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