Warding off winter colds by growing some garlic
OWIS THE TIME to plant garlic and shallots. At this time of year the weather cools off and the dreaded common cold begins its merry rounds. With that in mind, there comes an increase in the amount of garlic eaten at our house, as it is known to help ward off the sniffles. So we grow our own and this is so easy to do.
Yum… garlic is good in all sorts of dishes, especially hot soups, roasted with your vegetables and used in stir fries.
Generally you plant garlic and shallots in the fur to six weeks around the shortest day and harvest around the longest day of the year.
Prior to planting garlic add some compost and bulb fertiliser to the soil bed. You may wish to plant into the vegetable garden or in amongst other plants (like roses) in the garden. Garlic will help to ward off insect pests too.
Split the garlic bulb into individual cloves and plant at 5- 10 cmdeep and about 15-20cm apart. Make sure that the weeds don’t take over and water regularly without over watering (particularly prior to harvest). Three good fat bulbs will split up enough to be able to produce about 1kg of garlic!
Lift at about the longest day and dry the garlic with the stems on. You can lay them out on a table somewhere in the sun under cover to do this. In Marlborough, as they don’t have much rain in the summer, the garlic is left to dry in the hot sun on the ground. As we tend to get a bit more rain here, it is a good idea to keep them under cover to dry. You can then either top and tail them, which is basically snipping the shoots and roots off, or if you are creative, plait them into a long bunch and hang up in a warm dry place. We store ours in the hot water cupboard (not with the linen though!)
Garlic and shallots can easily be grown in containers too. Use a good quality pottingmix such as bulb mix. Feed regularly through the growing months with Ican fast Food, water regularly and harvest as per normal.
We have two types of garlic, white printanor with great real garlic flavour and elephant garlic, big cloves that are not as strong flavoured.
Shallots French Red are also available now and are lovely to use with their subtle flavour.
So keep healthy and get that garlic in now.
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Ward off colds— make dinners wonderful with garlic.