Garlic, And How To Plant It In Your Garden

My plan for this year was to post my herb / spice post on a Wednesday – but this week I was so busy I pushed through a post I had ready to go in my draft folder. Not wanting to miss out a week, here is the post on garlic!

Garlic is divided into two groups: soft necks which contain all the common varieties; and hard necks which contain the remarkable serpent variety. It produces tall, sinuously looping stems with a head of bulbils mixed with miniature plants. Below ground it forms a bulb of 4 to 14 cloves. The ramsons variety is an intensely scented species and both the leaves and bulbs are used. Russian plants develop a large basal bulb comprising several huge cloves. Wild plants have garlic flavoured foliage, small garlic flavoured bulbs and nodding umbels of attractive starry white flowers. In the area where I live, we have a lot of snakes and I have planted the wild variety to dissuade them from visiting my garden.

The plants requires a well tilled and weed free soil, good drainage and a sunny position. Propagate by planting cloves vertically, with the pointed tip covered with about 2.5cm of soil. Regular weeding is essential, particularly in the earlier stages of growth. Do not over water and do not use chemicals. Companion plant together with orange marigolds.

Use the foliage fresh. Choose a sunny day to pull the bulbs and then leave them for a few days to dry out. Store in a dry, well ventilated area.

Wild Garlic Growing In My Garden
Wild Garlic Growing In My Garden

All varieties compliments almost any savoury dish and goes well with most culinary herbs and spices. It is an essential ingredient in many cuisines, especially Asian, Mexican, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Caribbean. Try out this simple recipe for a pickled version. Choose firm bulbs that are not sprouting and that are tightly encased in their husks. Once peeled, the flesh should be creamy white. Remove any areas of discolouration before using, as these will impart a rank taste to the dish. When peeled, then sliced or chopped, the enzymes within a clove of garlic react on exposure to air to produce a strong, lingering, sulphurous aroma. The flavour of garlic is similarly strong and sharp, and gives the impression of heat on the palate. The more finely it is crushed or chopped, the stronger the garlic’s aroma becomes. When cooked properly, the flavour is mellow and sweet. Try baking a whole head in foil and then squeeze out the contents of the cloves. This mellow, creamy paste is delicious spread on bread or cooked meats or stirred through mashed vegetables. Take care when cooking garlic – if it is cooked over too high a heat it will burn, becoming bitter and taste unpleasant. Even a tiny amount of burnt garlic will permeate and spoil a whole dish.

Garlic is used raw in aioli and tapenade. Crushed garlic mashed into butter is a delicious and simple sauce for cooked meats, or it can be spread on sliced bread, wrapped in foil and baked in a medium hot oven for 10 minutes to make garlic bread. Push slivers of garlic into slits in a joint of lamb or pork or put a few cloves inside the cavity of a chicken before roasting.

information sourced from The Complete Book of Herbs

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28 thoughts on “Garlic, And How To Plant It In Your Garden

  1. I think I learned more about garlic than I ever have. This article is so informative and just makes me love garlic even more. And this is the first time I’ve ever heard of pickled garlic.. definitely interesting :). Thanks for all the great info Tandy 🙂

    1. it is my pleasure Kay – the pickled garlic is amazing – I had never heard of it until I read my friend Sam’s magazine article about it 🙂

  2. Hi, I haven’t heard about garlic being a deterrent for snakes before, fascinating!. I know lots of gardeners who also make a weak garlic tea and spary it on certain crops to stop aphids and the like.

  3. How very informative Tandy. I’ve not yet grown garlic, my father always did and your photo reminded me of his plants!! I really need to get on the garlic bandwagon!!

    1. the snakes are only a problem when you are picking the tomatoes from the bush they are sleeping under – which has happened to me a few times!

  4. Since garlic is my most favorite ingredient, and since my daughter includes garlic in her garden, I’m forwarding this link in hopes that she’ll order some of those more exotic hardneck varieties. Thanks for sharing such an enlightening post.

  5. I bet the pickled garlic would be wonderful with scrambled eggs…I actually eat raw cloves at times with mine….wut…keeps the vampires away.

    Well, okay, it keeps Everyone away but, I haven’t had my second coffee yet. so, I sort of like the solitude.

  6. Thanks Tandy, this was a really interesting read! I tried pickling garlic once, but wasn’t overly thrilled with the results. And the Russian garlic is amazing to look at – each corm is the size of a fist – but I don’t like the flavour as much as other varieties..

    1. I am also not that keen on the Russian garlic. Yesterday I got some baby garlic from the farmers market – pretty and purple skinned with a really strong garlic scent. I am going to plant some of those 🙂

  7. Pingback: Preserved Lemon And Pickled Garlic Gremolata Recipe

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