Celebrate Garlic? It is easy to grow and good to eat! It doesn't take much room and has many health benefits! According to FritoLay, the average adult consumes about 2.3 lbs of Garlic each year.
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- Garlic is a member of the lily family and a close cousin to the onion.
- Garlic’s Latin name is ‘Allium sativum’.
- The garlic bulb has flat leaves, pinkish flower heads and roots that can penetrate two feet into the soil.
- Grown as a perennial, garlic ‘sets’ or cloves are planted in summer and allowed to establish before winter. Some references say to plant as late as October, but remember to follow natures’ clock. You will want to give garlic cloves time to develop some root and top growth before frost.
- Cloves are planted about 2”deep, 3 to 6” apart and in rows as close as 12 to 16”. Cover with a mulch to provide adequate moisture and plan to water deeply during the summer.
- If you already grow garlic, harvest should take place when tops fall in mid-summer. At that time watering should stop. Bend any tops that don’t fall over on their own. Allow the bulbs to cure. When the tops are dry, pull or dig the garlic. Lay them in a covered airy storage shed out of the direct rays of the sun for a day then shake off any dirt.
- Now you can braid long strands of garlic leaves with bulbs attached, incorporating new garlic strands into the braid as you go. These garlic braids are hung in the root cellar and can be used by cutting what you need off the braid with scissors. Or, cut thoroughly dry tops and roots with shears leaving one inch of top and ½” of root on the bulb. These bulbs store nicely in airy burlap bag or plastic, open weave onion bags in a cool dry place.
The large French, Giant or Elephant garlic as it is sometimes called, is a milder form and requires the same growing and harvest process.
Who need Oktoberfest when the West Coast has Garlicfest?
North Plains, Oregon celebrates garlic with their Summerfest & Garlic Outwest
! event held in August. Chehalis, Washington celebrates garlic with their Garlic Fest & Craft Show and the people of Gilroy, California have celebrated garlic for 35 years! Their Gilroy Garlic Festival includes three days of summer fun; a garlic bowl, free garlic ice cream, a craft show and cook-off. They claim to have used 10 tons of beef, 4 tons pasta, 2 tons scampi, 2 tons calamari, 2 tons fresh garlic in their cooking over the years and they have raised 9.7 million dollars for local charities. Makes me want to visit Gilroy in July!
Many Uses for Garlic!
- Organic gardeners make their own insect sprays using garlic as a base. Blend a few garlic cloves with 1 cup of water. Strain the chunks out of this mixture, add a drop of dishwashing soap and spray on crops with aphid infestation. A more potent brew consists of 10 – 15 minced garlic cloves in a pint of mineral oil and let that stand for at least 24 hours. Strain this mixture. Add 2 teaspoons of this oil to insecticidal soap spray and use.
There are many ways to enjoy garlic such as fresh on salads, as fresh seasoning, or in a stir fry. A simple yet tasty recipe is to bake whole cloves of garlic in the oven.
Oven Baked Garlic
Cut top of clove
drizzle with olive oil
wrap in foil
Cook in oven at 325 degrees for 20 minute or until it feels soft.