The Legendary Garlic

Garlic bulbs displayed on a board

It is time to plant the legendary Garlic again.  

In New Zealand, our shortest day was 21 June, which many gardeners say is the time to plant the legendary garlic bulb. And of course, harvest it on the longest day (21 December). But this is only a guide because Garlic can be planted anytime in the colder months of the year. My Garlic cloves will be in the ground by the end of this month – July.

The Legendary Garlic is an ancient food flavouring

The Garlic has a long history going back to 3000BC.

It’s only been of recent times that I incorporated Garlic into my cooking; however, that says more about my impoverished cooking skills than anything to do with Garlic! I tend to leave the family meal preparation to other family members!

From ancient times Garlic has been an ingredient in cooking, adding texture and flavour to many a dish!

The legendary Garlic made it’s way from Asia, to the Middle East and Africa before reaching Europe, the journey starting as early as 3000BC. There are now well over 400 different varieties of Garlic. In New Zealand, the main variety of regular Garlic grown is the ‘Printanor.’

Garlic is a member of the Allium Family

Garlic is a part of the Allium family.  The Alliums consist of onions, shallots and leeks, and add texture and flavours to your cooking.

Garlic has two sub-varieties, the soft-neck, and the hard-neck. This refers to the leaves growing from the centre of the Garlic. Soft-necks have soft leaves, whereas, hard-neck have a stalk that grows from the centre of the Garlic and turns rigid.

Planting and caring for your growing Garlic

This year I am again going to plant the Printanor variety and adding a second Elephant variety, as it was recommended by a friend. Elephant garlic is actually a leek,

In planting both types of Garlic, the ground needs to be well prepared with fine loose soil to a depth of 15cm (6″) to 20cm (8″).

Garlic cloves should be planted where it gets good sunlight during the day and in soil that drains well. The soil should be moist but not overly wet. Equally, do not let the soil dry out when the temperatures warm because that will also impact on the growing bulb.

Soil pH levels should be between 6 and 7. Garlic should not be planted where Onions or Garlic have been planted in previous recent years.

When garlic flowers appear, remove these, so the growth goes into the production of the garlic bulb and not the flower.

Fertilise the surface, not with the planted cloves as you run the risk of burning the garlic roots. A suitable fertiliser should have a nutrient rating NPK: 15-10-10. Where the NPK stands for N = Nitrogen, P = Phosphorus, and K = Potassium.

And of course, plant the clove and not the bulb. The bulb should be broken up with the biggest cloves planted.

The nasty pests

Garlic does tend to have reduced pest infestations; however, watch out for Aphids.

When its harvesting and storage time

If you are following the shortest day to longest day guideline. Or looking at harvesting when nature and the Garlic leaves are telling you by dying off (16-24 weeks) dig the bulbs up, don’t pull them out of the ground.

Garlic should be stored, in dry, cool, and dark ventilated environment, away from other foods. Then it can be used in whatever food cooking that you so desire to add great flavour and texture.  Garlic adds immense value to stews and casseroles, marinades, and dressing.

Further articles and information you may like to review

The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.

Alfred Austin

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