A mainstay of cuisines all over the world, the smell of frying garlic is enough to make anyone’s mouth water. But besides the well-known fact that garlic can make your food taste delicious, it is also full of health benefits. From the earliest recorded histories of the Mesopotamian civilization to the Middle Ages of Europe and even till the present day, garlic has had a long and continuous history of being used for its health and medicinal properties.
The ancient Greeks and Egyptians associated garlic with strength and work capacity. It became an important part of the diet of workers and soldiers. Hippocrates who is widely considered as the father of medicine prescribed garlic for a variety of conditions. The Chinese used garlic as an aid for digestion and ancient Indian texts recommend garlic for the treatment of heart disease and arthritis.
In modern times, scientists are confirming the theories about the nutritive value of garlic. Thousands of peer-reviewed articles have studied the effects of garlic and have concluded that regular consumption of garlic is more than beneficial for us. Full of nutrients but low on calories, garlic contains manganese, vitamin B6, vitamin C, selenium, and fiber. Besides these, it also contains calcium, copper, potassium, phosphorus, iron, vitamin B1, and trace amounts of many other nutritious substances.
A study conducted on a hundred and forty-six subjects over a period of three months showed that the subjects who were given garlic were half as likely to catch a common cold as the subjects who were given the placebo. Moreover, even if they did catch a cold, their recovery period was much quicker. Another study used seven groups of thirty subjects to test the effects of garlic on blood pressure. The five groups who were given varying doses of garlic in the form of tablets showed a decrease in blood pressure that was equivalent to the group which was given Atenolol tablets.
You can get the best of garlic’s benefits by eating organically, home grown pods. Cultivating garlic is very easy and you can be sure that you’ll get a regular supply. The first thing you need to know that garlic can primarily be divided into two categories – hardnecks and softnecks. The former has a tough stalk in the middle around which the cloves are clustered. It grows into a curly flower stem which can be trimmed to send energy directly to the pod. The latter forms a great number of cloves of varying sizes and it has a longer shelf life.
To grow garlic:-
- You need to get a big, shallow pot and pack it loosely with fertile soil. You can also mix it with compost to enrich the soil.
- Pick out the biggest cloves of garlic and plant them in the soil. Make sure that the clove is pointed towards the sky.
- The cloves won’t require a lot of water but keep the soil damp and in a place that has plenty of sunlight.
- Once they sprout, keep trimming the stalk every time it grows up to a few inches but keep about one inch intact so that it can continue to grow.
- A full pod would have formed when the stalk starts drying up. Once you dig out the pods you can plant cloves from them to grow more garlic.
There are also a few other things that you need to remember. Using the same soil for more than two years can cause the pods to become diseased. Ideally, you should start planting at least a month or a month and a half before winter. The roots should have time to develop before it becomes too cold to grow.
The best time to harvest would be towards the end of spring and the beginning of summer. You can harvest by using a garden fork to slowly prise apart the soil and pick out the pod. When you’re done with the harvest, store the pods in a well-ventilated space but away from exposure to sunlight. Keep different varieties apart from each other.
If you wish to store garlic for some time, you need to cure it. Do this by trimming the shoots so that they only stand around ten inches tall and cut the roots so that they are close to the bulb. Clean off the outermost layer of skin and any soil that is still covering the pod. Keep them in an airy space away from the light.
By following these easy instructions, you can be assured that you have a lifetime supply of garlic to keep you hearty and healthy.