I just love September on our homestead. One foot is still in summer while the other one steps towards fall. It is a time when the garden starts to slow. Even in our temperate winters only a few things can be planted. Garlic is one of them, my favorite cooking herb. It can be planted in October after most other garden chores are finished for the year. All winter long it waits in the ground for spring. Tiny new roots are sent down; some clinging to the frozen soil of colder areas. By early spring it will be poking its head through layers of mulch reaching for the sun. If you’d like to try your hand at growing garlic, now is a good time to order seed garlic.
There are over 300 varieties of garlic grown world wide, divided into two categories – soft neck and hard neck. Everyone has their preferences and lots of people enjoy growing new varieties to find new favorites.
Garlic is native to Central Asia and dates back to 4000 BC. It is part of the lily family. Ancient Egyptians worshiped garlic and would place clay models of the herb in the tombs of deceased family members. Garlic was so highly regarded in ancient times that it was even used as currency. And, lastly, garlic was well known for its aphrodisiac qualities, which have been celebrated through the ages in literature, recipes, and medical journals.
Until the 1940’s however, garlic was unacceptable in most of American society, having been dubbed the “stinking rose”. For centuries garlic has been considered an herbal wonder drug. It was used by monks of the middle ages to treat the cold and common flu.
During WWII garlic poultices were used on wounds as an inexpensive and effective replacement for antibiotics.
Garlic has many medicinal qualities too. When crushed, garlic has been shown to kill 23 types of bacteria, including salmonella and staphylococcus. It has also been shown to lower cholesterol by preventing clotting in the arteries. And, the A, B, and C vitamins in garlic help stimulate the body to fight carcinogens.
For a great “how-to” guide on growing garlic check out this article by Adam Steiner