Sunday, November 22, 2009

We've started to eat this crop of garlic

We've started to eat this year's crop of garlic and we are very pleased with the quality. We eat heaps of garlic because of its flavour, it's especially delicious with eggs, roast beef or lamb, cooked with pasta and greens, in fresh tomato sauces, and with potatoes or beans.

We will keep at least four or five bulbs a week for us to eat on the farm, and about half of this harvest for planting next season. The rest, mostly the biggest bulbs, will be sold at farmers markets (starting next Saturday at Churchill Island) where the hardneck varieties are always popular.

Garlic or allium sativum, adapts to the local soil, and does well when it is replanted in the same space in the garden for several years. For best results, I'm told that it's good to plant garlic which originates in your region – so keeping seed from year to year is the way to go. The majority of the garlic we planted this year was bought-in so it will be interesting to see if there's much difference next year when we use our own cloves.
Did you know that China produces around 70% of the world's garlic and is driving many garlic producers out of business?
For at least 10,000 years, humans have enjoyed garlic. From ancient China, Egypt and India, through Biblical times and Greek and Roman cultures, down to the present, people have used garlic to treat a variety of illnesses including cancer, heart disease and leprosy, as well as infected wounds and dysentery.

Modern research shows that garlic is a powerful antibiotic, provides at least three beneficial effects for the heart, helps eliminate lead and other toxic heavy metals from the body, has anti-tumour properties, and said to be useful in treating leprosy and AIDS. It's our garlic's wonderful flavour, however, that keeps us growing and eating it.

You can grow garlic, too. Look for decent size bulbs at a local farmers market, hang it up until autumn and then plant it when you set out other bulbs like daffodils and tulips. In around six months you'll harvest your own and will have your own culinary delight.

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