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Arbor Gate's Picks
of the Month

Garlic

December 8, 2016 Back to Picks >

(Allium sativum)

Each month during 2016, my Herb Picks will be accompanied by a myth or other tale that has come down to us through the centuries, as well as some useful growing information. These are herbs that can be grown in our area, and are found in the Arbor Gate Herb House throughout the year. Needless to say, not all herbs are available during every season, so keep a list handy of those you want to add to your herb collection.

Garlic was placed by the Ancients at the crossroads as a supper for the goddess Hecate. And in his great story of Ulysses, Homer tells us that the virtues of garlic saved Ulysses from being turned into a pig by the enchantress Circe, as were his soldiers when the army was on the island of Aenea.

Garlic is now used as a key culinary ingredient in many cultures and for an expansive variety of foods, and it has medicinal properties that contain antiseptic and antibiotic properties. Garlic has been used throughout the ages as a stimulant, diuretic, expectorant, and as an ingredient in healing ointments.

Gardeners in warmer climates, USDA zones 7-9, will have a difficult time growing garlic in the garden from just any garlic varieties. Most likely you will want to look for some of the gourmet or heirloom cultivars that grow well in warmer weather. These cultivars include: Creoles, Asiatic, Hardnecks, Marbled Purple Stripe.

When and how to plant garlic in warmer climates is also somewhat different from growing it in cooler climates. For one thing, you can plant the garlic later and secondly, it can be harvested sooner. Plan to plant your garlic in late October through early December.

When you plant garlic, what you will be doing is growing garlic from the separate cloves, so take one clove off the bulb at a time and plant it in the prepared bed. Remember, just like ?ower bulbs, the pointed end of the clove goes up. You will want to plant each separate clove about 8 to 10 inches deep, spaced 6 to 8 inches apart.

When the leaves die back in May or June, wash the bulbs, and then dry under a roof to prevent repeated soaking. Spread out the garlic on fencing or screening off the ?oor until the leaves are dead. Cut off the dead leaves 1 inch from the bulb, and store them in a paper bag in refrigerator. Separate the largest bulbs for seed for next year.