In New Zealand, it’s time to start planting garlic. As a rule, plant garlic on the shortest day and harvested on the longest day. Generally, planting can be anytime between April and August, during the coldest months of the year.
Garlic is one of the easiest herbs to grow. Buy a bulb and break the garlic bulb open and plant individual cloves 10cm apart from each other. Plant the biggest cloves just beneath the soil, with the pointy end sticking upwards; the biggest cloves will grow the biggest bulbs. Do not to buy your bulbs from the supermarket vegetable section as a lot of the time they are treated not to sprout. Buy untreated bulbs from a garden centre or a similar source.
Plant garlic in a sunny position, they like moist conditions, not dry and not wet, so make sure you are checking and testing the soil. Too wet a situation and the garlic bulbs may start to rot. So, make sure the drainage from the garden or pot is good. I have placed my garlic bulbs into various plastic containers and found the sunniest place on the property, which happens to be next to the front door.
Companion planting helps growth, as well as fertilising to encourage healthy growth. Garlic is compatible with Beets, Carrots, Cucumber, Dill, Tomatoes and Parsnip, but avoid growing with Asparagus, Beans, Brassicas, Peas and Potatoes. Garlic will produce a green stalk out of the earth to catch the sunlight and to flower. Harvest when the stem starts to die off dig the garlic out of the ground or pot, don’t pull them out. Let the garlic dry out in a suitable place, and place away from direct sunlight.
Known for its culinary uses, Garlic also has many potential health benefits. The main health benefits believed to be in assisting with cardiovascular health and cancer prevention. As a culinary ingredient, garlic is used to make sauces or to season meats, seafood, vegetables, and other dishes. Enjoy garlic roasted or eaten raw, if you are fearless at heart. I eat a garlic clove whole, but most of the time I crush the garlic and mixed with my food.
Garlic is believed to provide the body with protection against cardiovascular disease. It does this in several ways: lowering cholesterol and triglycerides, raising HDL (good cholesterol), reducing the formation of plaque in carotid arteries. Garlic protects against aging in the all-important aorta, the cardiac blood vessel responsible for maintaining blood flow and pressure throughout the heart pumping cycle.