Why Grow Garlic?

by Darius Van d’Rhys (darius) June 3, 2008

The first benefit to the home gardener is the opportunity to grow and use some of the magnificent garlic varieties seldom, if ever, found in the supermarkets and rarely even at farmer’s markets or roadside stands. Out of over 600 sub-varieties, only 2 are commonly found in grocery stores. If you like cooking and eating garlic, expand your repertoire!

The second benefit (besides eating the garlic) is the growing garlic has natural fungicide and pesticide properties. Garlic companion planting is especially beneficial to lettuce by deterring aphids, and to cabbage. Garlic oil is effective at repelling and even killing snails and slugs.

As well as protecting other plants, garlic can also improve their flavor. Beets and cabbage are reported to be good companions that benefit from this. However, not all companion planting with garlic is beneficial. Garlic doesn’t cooperate well with legumes, peas or potatoes so do not plant your garlic too near these.

ImageWhat Kind to Grow, and Where

Garlic isn’t just garlic, there are many different kinds of garlic and they’re almost all different in size, color, shape, taste, number of cloves per bulb, pungency and storage times.

Botanists classify all true garlics under the species Allium Sativum. There are two subspecies; Ophioscorodon, or hard-necked garlics (Ophios for short) and Sativum, or soft-necked garlics.
Hardnecks further divide into Rocambole, Purple Stripe, and Porcelain sub-groups although 2 more sub-groups have recently been added: Marbled Purple Stripe and Glazed Purple Stripe. Softnecks have 2 main groups: Artichokes and Silverskins. Artichoke garlics now include the Turban and Asiatic sub-groups. There is yet another group called Creole, long thought to be a sub-group of the Silverskins but the latest DNA studies show them in a separate class by themselves.


So, how do you decide what to grow? 
I have separate articles covering each of these groups following this article and you will find good information in them. One is a general overview, this one is on basics of growing and cooking garlic, and the ones on hardnecks, softnecks and Creoles will help you decide which type for your climate and which varieties for your taste buds.

Garlic is easy to grow. Great garlic is difficult to grow.

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Garlic developed in central Asia with long cold winters, damp cool springs and warm, dry summers. Since then it has been grown around the world and a few needs have changed. Varieties like Rocamboles still need those central Asian conditions. Porcelains and Purple Stripes are more tolerant but still won’t do well in a hot dry spring. Hardneck Rocamboles do poorly in warmer climates.

Garlic tolerates most soils but if you want excellent large and beautiful garlic, you need a healthy soil full of micronutrients and minerals. High concentrations of NPK fertilizers can kill off the healthy microorganisms living in the soil, as can chemical herbicides and pesticides. “If the government requires applicators to wear ‘protective’ clothing (boots, gloves, hoods and masks) to apply it, why would you want to eat it?” [1] Garlic really needs the minerals and micronutrients more than an abundance of NPK. The soil should have manure and compost added on a regular basis. Rock dusts and minerals can be added; they act like long-time slow-release fertilizers and the garden will continue to maintain fertility for years to come, with fewer applications eventually needed.

Garlic should be planted in the fall in the north. This gives time for sprouting roots to develop before the emerging plants die down with cold winter temperatures. After a few frosts but before the ground freezes hard in my Zone 5b, I cover my garlic bed with 6-8” of straw which helps prevent frost heave. When the ground begins to warm in the spring, I remove the straw so the sun can warm the emerging stalks. Sometimes the fall planted bulbs will sprout enough to send up green shoots before winter. That’s okay… they will die back and grow again in spring.

Garlic likes fertile, well-drained soil so that the bulb is above the water level and the roots deep into the moist soil. Plant the cloves root end down, about 4” deep and 6” apart in the north, and 2-3” deep in the south. Bubils (from the scapes) can be harvested and planted but they will take 2 or more years to produce a large bulb. Some vendors and growers recommend soaking individual cloves in water with bicarbonate of soda for a few minutes, and then dipped in rubbing alcohol (or 140 proof vodka) for 3-4 minutes to kill any pathogens. Use the largest cloves to grow the best bulbs for next year.

If your soil is healthy and fertile you may choose (or not) to add a foliar spray in the spring. A tablespoon each of molasses, seaweed and baking soda in a gallon of water makes a good spray used 2-3 times in spring. Do not use a foliar spray on dry plants, nor spray close to harvest. The leaves will become lush at the expense of the bulb.

When the tops just start to turn yellow/brown and fall over, gently dig the bulbs. There should still be some green inner leaves. When only about 8 green leaves remain, stop watering and let the soil begin to dry. After digging the bulbs, do not wash, just brush off loose dirt and store in dry shade for 2-4 weeks to cure. Treat them gently as they can bruise easily and thus not store well.Image

Store garlic warm (55-65ºF), dry (40-60% humidity) and in the dark to keep it dormant. Garlic is usually hung to dry and good air circulation is very important.

Here’s a photo journal of the whole process of preparing beds, planting, harvesting and storing:http://www.gourmetgarlicgardens.com/gardenyear.htm

Tips on Cooking with Garlic

When the cell walls in a garlic clove are cut, diced, chopped, crushed, etc., the cloves release allicin which gives garlic its smell and taste. Peeling cloves is tedious but you can easily peel them without breaking cell walls by soaking individual cloves in plain water for an hour or two, or by dropping them in boiling water for 60 seconds. When you want to add garlic to a dish, the larger the pieces, the milder will be the flavor. James Beard’s recipe for Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic is at the end of this article. It surprisingly has the barest hint of garlic due to long cooking of whole cloves.

The finer you cut garlic, the more allicin is released, creating a stronger flavor. For a bold, assertive garlic taste, finely chop or crush the garlic. Let it rest for a few minutes, and then add it just before cooking is complete.

A good health practice to fight E. coli found in supermarket meats is to rub crushed raw garlic all over the meat. Crushed raw garlic is a powerful antibiotic that can kill E. coli, but it will not kill the bacteria INSIDE the meat. To do that, you must cook the meat thoroughly.

I personally don’t find garlic breath objectionable. However, sunflower seed oil and parsley taken together will drastically reduce or even eliminate primary garlic breath. After eating a garlicky meal, eat a spoonful of sunflower seeds and a sprig of fresh parsley and you will find your breath much less offensive to others.

When you cook garlic long and slow, it becomes creamy and less strong. Most garlic odor on your hands can be eliminated by rubbing them on a piece of stainless steel flatwear under running water.

Footnotes:
[1] http://www.gourmetgarlicgardens.com/growing.htm

Photo Credits: Hood River Garlic Farm http://www.hoodrivergarlic.com

Read my other garlic articles here:
Why would anyone grow A Stinking Rose? For Garlic of Course!
http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/613
Hardneck Garlic for Northern Climates
http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/1030/
Softneck Garlic for Southern Climates
http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/1031/
Creole Garlics
http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/1032/

 

Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic
by James Beard

2/3 cup olive oil
8 chicken drumstick and thighs (or 16 of either)
4 ribs celery, cut in long strips
2 medium onions, chopped
6 sprigs parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon, or 1 teaspoon dried
1/2 cup dry vermouth
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of nutmeg
40 cloves garlic, unpeeled

1. Put the oil in a shallow dish, add the chicken pieces, and turn them to coat all sides evenly with the oil.

2. Cover the bottom of a heavy 6-quart casserole with a mixture of the celery and onions, add the parsley and tarragon, and lay the chicken pieces on top. Pour the vermouth over them, sprinkle with salt and pepper, add a dash or two of nutmeg, and tuck the garlic cloves around and between the chicken pieces. Cover the top of the casserole tight with aluminum foil and then the lid (this creates an air-tight seal so the steam won’t escape). Bake in a 375°oven for 1 1/2 hours, without removing the cover.

3. Serve the chicken, pan juices, and whole garlic cloves with thin slices of heated French bread or toast. The garlic should be squeezed from the root end of its papery husk onto the bread or toast, spread like butter, and eaten with the chicken.

 

About Darius Van d’Rhys

I have a ‘growing my own food’ obsession that comes from my overlapping interests in cooking, nutrition and gardening. I am also a “teacher”, a writer, a builder… and a craftsperson and… and… and many other things, LOL. In fact, I guess I am a generalist, and a Seeker. I live in the southern Appalachian Mountains on a hillside with a creek in front, and drive a 15 year old truck I lovingly call “My Farmer’s Ferrari.” Editor’s note: Darius passed away on March 19, 2014. Her readers will miss her greatly and we are thankful for her legacy of wonderful articles.

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Best Lemon Crinkle Cookies

This are a new recipe for me. Definitely a keeper. I have to say it is the best lemon cookie I have ever put in my mouth. Especially warm from the oven. It is made with a triple whammy of lemon: lemon extract, fresh lemon juice and lemon zest. Not what you think of in a holiday cookie but still yummy. (Of course, with the powdered sugar you could say it is snowman who laid down!)
lermon-cookies

Lemon Crinkle Cookies

 Ingredients
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 10 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup + 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest (from about 2 medium lemons)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 tsp lemon extract
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 drops yellow food coloring (optional)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
  • In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip together butter, sugar and lemon zest until pale and fluffy (occasionally scrape down bowl throughout entire mixing process if not using a paddle attachment that constantly scrapes bowl). Mix in egg then blend in egg yolk. Add lemon juice, lemon extract, vanilla extract and optional yellow food coloring and mix until combined. With mixer set on low speed, slowly add in dry ingredients and mix just until combined.
  • Pour powdered sugar into a small bowl. Scoop dough out about 1 1/2 Tbsp at a time (25g each) and shape into a ball, then drop in powdered sugar and roll to evenly coat. Transfer to a parchment paper or Silpat lined baking sheet, repeat with remaining dough and space cookies 2-inches apart on baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven 10 – 13 minutes. Cool on baking sheet several minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container.
  • Recipe Source: Cooking Classy

Finally, 6 of 6 Zucchini Recipes: Zucchini Nut Bread Cookies

zucchini-cookies-from-a-distance.jpg

These cookies, cousins of zucchini bread, are perfect for packing up as picnic fare -even if the picnic table is right in your kitchen. The sweet cream-cheese filling can be sandwiched between two cookies if that is what you choose, kind of like a modified moon pie. I personally loved them with no filling. Very good. And I could tell myself I was getting my vegetables and therefore, it was healthier! Oh the delusions we entertain!

Prep Time 25 minutes • Total Time 2 hours

Ingredients
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Coarse salt

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature  (for the cookies AND the filling)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup finely grated zucchini
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts

Filling
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sift flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt into a bowl.

Beat 1 stick butter and the sugars until pale and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla.

Beat flour mixture into butter mixture. Mix in zucchini, oats, and walnuts. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop (about 2 tablespoons), drop dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake until edges are golden, about 17 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.

Filling: Beat together remaining 1/2 stick butter, the cream cheese, and confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Spread 1 heaping tablespoon filling onto the flat side of 1 cookie, and sandwich with another cookie. Repeat with remaining filling and cookies.

Delicious Pumpkin Pie With Lower Sugar

This a delicious pumpkin pie recipe that uses splenda and a little bit of brown sugar. It’s very good and hard to tell it’s low sugar. I roast my own pie pumpkins.

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How to roast pumpkins: Buying cans of pumpkin is easy but in my opinion you never know how long that pumpkin has been in the can. It is incredibly easy to raost your own. Pie pumpkins are better for baking than the ones people use for jack 0’lanterns. They are smaller, less stringy and sweeter.

To roast a pumpkin, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cut pumpkin in half, scrape seeds out (you save them for roasting), place pumpkin halves, cut side down on a rimmed cookie sheet covered in foil. By placing them upside down, they don’t dry out (form a crust) and they steam.Bake pumpkin for about 30 – 50 mintues, dependent on size of the pumpkin, until they are easily pierced through the skin  with a fork. They sometimes look like they are collapsing. Let them cool. I scrape the pumpkin straight from the baking pan into the blender.

Here’s a tip: pour in the half and half (3/4 cup)and then place enough pumpkin that the liquid rised to the 2 3/4 cup line on the blender. 

I love this recipe because it is so simple and doesn’t dirty up every dish in the house. Put all your ingredients into the blender, blend and pour.

Ingredients:
1/2 Package pie crust
2 Cup mashed pumpkins
3/4 Cup splenda
1/3 Cup brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamom
2 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cloves
Pinch Salt
3/4 Cup half and half
3 Large Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla

Note: You can use 1 tablesppom of premade pumpkin pie spice instead of mixing your own

Instructions : Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Fit piecrust to pie plate. Mix all ingredients in a blender, pour into pie plate. I put the pie pan on the oven rack and then fill, it keeps spills to a minimum. Bake 50 – 60 minutes or until set in the center

Update on the Uncle David’s Dakota Dessert Squash in My Last Post

I tried the smallest Uncle David”s Dakota Dessert squash and it was really good, First I roasted it with nothing on it to get the flavor. The first bite was a little vegetal, the next, in the thicker part of the piece was dry and slightly sweet. I was a little concerned I wouldn’t get full flavor since it was the smallest and least developed off the bunch.

pumpkins and squash 2016 - 3.jpg

Once I tasted it for unadulterated flavor, I threw some butter, brown sugar and spices; mace and allspice on top. You could also use apple pie spice or nutmeg. I put the dish back into the oven, at 350 degrees until it melted. Oh boy was it good!

What I do With My Tomatoes – Canning and More Canning

2014-table-of-tomatoes  Here is a picture of one day’s harvest of tomatoes, which finally started ripening, (I swear in our neck of the woods it’s a fall crop now). I canned 31 quarts of tomatoes, so far and there will be many more2014-canned-tomatoes-2.

I like to do it this way because I can use them for just about anything, sauces, as an ingredient in a recipe, pepper steak, even soup. I mix all the colors together which I think is very pretty and strengthens the flavors, making it more complex.2014-canned-tomatoes