I have a new love, it's garlic. It's one of those plants that you either love or hate right out of the gate. I guess, in a way, I have always loved it but haven't put much thought into it until recently.
My knowledge of garlic has been very limited. Basically, I know only a few things:
It has been cultivated for several centuries
It has a strong odor
It makes food taste better
It can make your breath smell bad
It wards off boyfriends, vampires, groundhogs, and evil spirits
That's about it.
Know What You Grow
What's that smell?
My curiosity was peaked one afternoon when I was visiting my aunt's house back in late Fall. We were walking around outdoors when the breeze hit just right and something awakened my olfactory receptors. When I asked about it, she tells me it was garlic. I reckon she has grown it for years and my mind took until now to take notice. Better late than never.
She kindly pulled a few bulbs for me to take home and plant with some basic instructions for planting and also a few blooms. I love the look of the blooms; they look like something that grows in fairyland.
There were several cloves when I separated the bulbs. I loaded my wagon with the cloves, my hand tools, some planting soil, and my watering can and went looking for some ideal places to plant these babies. Knowing I have an ongoing problem with groundhogs, I focused on areas that I mainly don't want groundhogs to be. Spots that are also sunny with well-draining soil.
I planted them in various areas outdoors. After some basic research, I learned to plant them with the flat side down, about 3-4 inches apart with approximately 3 inches of soil on top. Look how much they have grown since last Autumn! It pleases me to see they have survived the winter. Not knowing whether it's something you are supposed to do or not, I left the leaves covering my plants when they dropped last fall. It seemed like a good idea at the time because winter can get pretty cold here in Appalachia. My thinking was that it might help insulate them from the cold and maybe provide nutrients. I looked it up and it's not unheard of, so, I believe we'll be ok.
In the meantime
While I waited to see how it would turn out, I occupied myself with furthering my knowledge base on this bulbous plant. As it turns out, they are quite healthy for you. No wonder my Granny took a garlic pill every day. Here are some things I discovered:
Are a good source for vitamins B6 & C
Contain minerals selenium, manganese, iron, & calcium
Have antioxidants such as carotene & zeaxanthin
Also have active components like allicin
Boost your immunity and assist in weight loss
Help fight cancer and reduce oxidative stress
Improve your iron metabolism
Are heart-friendly by reducing cholesterol and blood sugar levels
Are anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-microbial
Relieve blood clotting disorders
Help prevent respiratory infections
With all those health benefits it is no wonder they have been cultivated for thousands of years.
Something Unexpected Happened
I had bought a couple of garlic cloves at my local grocery store (to use in cooking) and dummy me forgot to store them properly. I had placed them on a paper towel on the windowsill. *For future reference; they need to be kept in a cool dark location.
Anyway, they sprouted!
I called my aunt, who is the guru of all things garlic, and she advised me to separate the cloves (leaving the skin) and stick them in some dirt and see what happens. It's a good thing I held onto those seedling containers; I also kept a couple of the containers that mushrooms come in.
I did some quick research on starting garlic cloves indoors and found that they would need to be kept in an area that gets light but where the temperature is cold. Well, the only place I have like that is the closed-in back porch area. There is a big window and it stays cold out there in the winter.
So far, they all are growing nicely! In a few weeks, I will transplant them outdoors. *My aunt said I should harvest the store bought ones when the time comes because they may not be winter hardy. Watch out groundhogs, I am about to make things not quite as nice for you as you are used to.
I can't wait to see them take off and fill the air with the smell of garlic. Some people, I guess, don't care for it. I like to smell the garlic. Especially when it is growing outdoors, not on my breath. Yeah, that's not cool. Outdoors though, that's something else entirely. The way it lingers in the breeze, it's nice.
I hope you enjoyed this blog and learned some new things about garlic that you maybe didn't know before. Have a great day and may you be blessed.