Garlic is one of those plants whose use in Australia has increased dramatically over the last twenty years. Garlic – which belongs to the onion family is added as a seasoning for many foods across so many cultures. There is some debate about the origins of Garlic, but most agree that the general region is central Asia whether that be the Tien Shan Mountains of Western China or further west towards Kazakhstan or Kyrgyzstan.
Historians tell us that as early as 2700 BC the Chinese were using Garlic for its medicinal properties based on the natural medicine concepts of yin and yang. Garlic was used as a heating and stimulating effect on the body and was recommended to those suffering depression. The Indian culture adopted Garlic to cure many ailments including to cure a lack of appetite, weakness, cough, skin diseases, arthritis and even haemorrhoids. Even now in the Western world Garlic has a common use role in the prevention and treatment of cold and sinus symptoms.
Gardeners also have a special affinity with Garlic and not just because it’s a great food to grow, but also because it can be used as a natural pesticide. Garlic is one of the easiest plants to grow. In fact, it’s so easy, I can’t really believe we have to tell you how to grow it. It’s a simple, resilient crop that will bring you a great harvest and there really is no reason I can think of that you shouldn’t have it in your garden.
Garlic in cooking
Growing Garlic will complement nearly every meal in the kitchen (excepting perhaps deserts!) Everything from Italian dishes like pasta, Asian dishes like stirfry and curries and even fantastic Lebanese Garlic Sauce all have Garlic as a central ingredient. In fact with most foods you buy, if you removed the garlic it would taste half as good.
Garlic as a companion plant
Garlic is a great companion plant for organic gardeners to consider. It effuses a natural fungicide and discourages many pests, but there are some tips you need to know about where to plant it and where not to. Chamomile, Beetroot and Carrots; Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Parsnips and Cucumbers all love being planted with Garlic.
Garlic is also brilliant in Rose Gardens discouraging aphids and by increasing flower perfume and flower yields. Like wise Garlic will improve the flavour of Capsicum and Tomatoes, and it’s perfect for keeping away worms, caterpillars and snails from vegetables like Broccoli, Cabbage and Spinach.
Where you should not plant Garlic as a companion
Parsley and Sage do not like Garlic and you should avoid planting garlic around a crop of beans or peas. If you do, you will find these veges do not grow well in your organic garden.
5 things you need to know about growing Garlic
- Garlic thrives in soil temperatures between 10-35 degrees Celcius
- The best time to plant is in mid winter, harvest in mid summer approx. 10cm apart
- Garlic takes approximately 6 months to yield a crop
- Your Garlic will prefer drained soils, as wetter soils will deform bulbs
- If you plant in good soil and water well it will reward you with a good crop
Garlic as an Organic Pesticide
Garlic can be used as an organic pesticide to discourage beetles and other insects from invading your plants. You can either make a spray that you directly apply to the affected areas of the plants or create a ‘garlic tea’ which you can pour around the roots of plants to have the same effect.
Here are the ingredients for creating a Garlic Spray:
- Half a large bulb of garlic (minced)
- One tablespoon of dried Hot Red Chilli Powder also known as Cayenne Pepper
- One Small Onion (minced)
- One teaspoon of Natural chemical-free soap
- One empty 3 Litre Milk Container
Add all the ingredients to the milk container and fill with water. Put a lid on the container and let it sit for 2-3 days. Use a muslin cloth over the spout of the container to hold the pulp while the liquid is drained (through a funnel) into a spray bottle. Spray on your plants as a deterrent or a pesticide and respray after rain. Your spray will last up to one month.
As you can see Garlic is a highly versatile plant. We think it’s a cornerstone to any Organic Garden because it is a plant that requires very little maintenance, and it’s so helpful in the garden as well as in the kitchen.
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