Growing your own garlic is both a pleasure in the garden and the kitchen. As a great way to save money on your shopping bills and keep you healthy, check in every month to find which veg has made the cut. This month I take a look at the glorious garlic—a flavoursome vegetable that knows how to pack a punch. So, read on to find out how you can become a garlic gourmet.
As part of the onion family, garlic (Allium sativum) has been used throughout the world in cooking for centuries. Known for its proven medicinal properties, garlic is an antioxidant powerhouse that can help aid many different ailments. Low in calories, just one clove contains all your daily goodness. Vitamins including B1, B6, C alongside important minerals such as, selenium, iron and manganese all help in fighting sickness to lowering blood pressure. So, let’s delve into why you should start stirring these little cloves into your soups today.
There are two main varieties of garlic, these include ‘Softneck’ and ‘Hardneck.’ Hardneck garlic is suitable for cold weather planting. If you get growing now, you could be harvesting your crops by July the following year.
To begin planting, you want to choose fully formed bulbs from your local garden centre. Start by breaking up the individual cloves, these can be quite tough. Push your cloves beneath fertile well drained soil, you can do this with your hands, making a cosy bed for your bulbs.
Make sure to push them right in and lightly cover with soil on top so no water can enter. Leave a 4-inch gap between each clove and choose a spot with plenty of sun. As with most bulbs, they don’t enjoy too much water so once planted they can be left alone to their own devices.
They can be grown in containers or straight into the ground, a super simple grower for your vegetable patch.
Tried and tasted
Hardneck garlic produce a small number of large cloves with a more intense flavour. These varieties are superb for a winter warmer meal, possessing a spicy aroma—great for adding to hearty soups and stews.
As a herb it makes for a great flavour enhancer and can be added to almost any dish, both raw and cooked. When cooking, be careful not to overheat as they have a tendency to turn bitter.
Try adding crushed or chopped cloves to smashed potatoes sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. With added herbs, such as parsley and thyme, these make for some powerful potato dishes.
Another benefit of adding garlic to your recipes is that, once crushed, garlic releases the active compound allicin, which is an amino acid. Several studies have found it to have the amazing ability to reduce inflammation and lower cholesterol. A very healthy herb indeed.
It’s not just vampires it has been known to ward off as garlic makes for a great garden deterrent keeping slugs at bay due its strong odour.