How To Plant & Grow Your Own Garlic Plus Garlic’s Many Health Benefits
In my recent post October Garden Chores: Essential Fall Tasks In Your Garden, I discuss how autumn is prime-time for gardeners in many locations to sow cold weather crops. While many think of fall as a time for harvest only, cold weather crops, including garlic, should be planted now to ensure an abundant summer crop. In just a few short months, planted cloves will yield a fresh crop of spicy, earthy garlic bulbs in time to flavor your summer culinary creations. By planting your own garlic, not only do you get a flavor-packed powerhouse, but you get a nutritional powerhouse as well. Recognized for having some of the greatest natural health benefits, garlic also happens to be an incredibly easy plant to grow.
Read on to discover the multitude of health benefits packed into those tiny little garlic cloves. Then discover just how easy it is to sow & grow garlic in your own garden…
Do you need more reasons to grow your own fresh garlic? Planting your own Allium sativum at home can alleviate any worries about pesticides and chemicals used on imported garlic. Since organic garlic can be fairly expensive to buy, growing your own will also save you money and trips to the food store. But, back to that earthy and incomparable garlic flavor…
“Without garlic I simply would not care to live.”
“Avoid at all costs that vile spew you see rotting in oil in screw-top jars. Too lazy to peel fresh? You don’t deserve to eat garlic.”
Now let’s find out where you can grow garlic outside this winter to take advantage of the bulb’s amazing culinary and medicinal magic. If you just want to learn how to grow garlic, skip down to the section, “How To Grow Your Own Garlic This Winter…”
Where Can You Grow Your Own Garlic Outdoors This Fall & Winter?
Fall garden tasks are as variable as the fall weather where you live. If you live in a milder region, such as garden grow zones 8 through 11, you should be able to sow garlic while other places are finishing their harvests. In regions 8 and 9, however, your winter crops, including garlic, may soon need protection depending on what Mother Nature has up her sleeve.
This is not to leave out intrepid Northern-dwelling gardeners who, rather than planting in a garden bed, can instead sow garlic in a container kept sheltered for the winter.
TIP: Type in your zip code here on this interactive map to find out the exact plant hardiness zone in which you live.
Health Disclosure: This article is for informational purposes only, and is not to be construed as medical advice. I encourage you to do your own research, for which I have provided several links, and to seek medical advice from your licensed healthcare provider.
Why Grow Your Own Garlic? Garlic Health & Medicinal Benefits In Folklore & Beyond
Our grandmothers knew about the power of garlic in homemade chicken soup to fight the common cold. However, this ancient wisdom goes way back to thousands of years earlier. Ancient Chinese and then Egyptians (and a host of other cultures) recorded their use of garlic to treat everything from respiratory and digestive issues to infections, abscesses and circulatory sluggishness.
In the Middle Ages, garlic continued to be revered for its antiseptic properties, its ability to improve circulation and memory, promote overall health, and even act as an aphrodisiac. Well, modern science and research has since confirmed all of this and more.
Improving your circulation certainly explains the aphrodisiac benefits, but let’s take a closer look at more of the abundant health benefits of this multi-tasking super-bulb…
Garlic Is Antimicrobial & Anti-Infection
According to research, garlic exerts a wide range of antimicrobial activity against bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites, and, yes, worms. We have all heard of someone who inadvertently consumed a raw piece of pork, only to later discover that raw garlic is the remedy to flush out any and all worms. This is just one example of the potent antimicrobial powers of the humble and underestimated garlic clove.
Garlic As An Immunity Booster
Several studies have shown that people who ate garlic, or took garlic pills, came down with fewer colds over several months than volunteers who took a placebo. Chemical compounds in garlic, including the powerful organic sulfur compound allicin have been shown to boost the disease fighting ability of certain types of white blood cells in the body, particularly when it comes to viruses that cause the common cold and flu.
Did You Know?
The strong sulfur chemical compounds which confer great immune system benefits are also responsible for garlic’s incredibly potent and distinctive smell.
Given its antimicrobial powers, it’s no surprise that raw garlic can stimulate your immune system and prevent infections. However, raw garlic has even been shown to treat conditions such as sore throats, coughs and respiratory discomfort associated with colds and flu. According to The Journal Of Immunology Research, garlic increases natural killer cells, and the production of T and B cells. According to The Journal Of Nutrition, clinical trials have shown garlic to significantly reduce the number, duration, and severity of upper respiratory infections.
Well, grandma was certainly onto something with her homemade cold-fighting garlic-infused chicken soup. But, what about garlic and its effects on heart health…
Garlic & High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure or hypertension is known to be one of the leading causes of heart disease in modern times. Not surprisingly, garlic has been shown to have some ability to lower blood-pressure and even regulate elevated cholesterol. Does garlic upset your stomach? These blood-pressure lowering and cholesterol modulating benefits have also been observed in certain garlic supplements.
Including more garlic in your diet can be an important part of improving your overall health and nutrition. Certain garlic supplements also offer advantages for those who can’t or won’t tolerate eating garlic. As always, consult with your medical provider as it relates to your personal health situation. See also “Potential Side Effects” below.
Garlic & Clotting
Garlic is well-known to prevent the clumping of platelets which can cause blood clotting to occur. It is one big reason your doctor instructs you to refrain from consuming large amounts of garlic before any major surgery as it can increase surgical bleeding and bruising. You can read more here.
Of course, excessive platelet clumping is associated with cardiovascular disease because it contributes to poor circulation. Garlic’s ability to prevent clumping and improve circulation is not only good for your heart health but, as the wise folk of the Middle Ages knew, it can also enhance your love life…
Raw Or Cooked Garlic?
The method of preparing garlic affects its health benefits since garlic’s powerful enzymes only work under certain conditions.
Most commonly, garlic is used in cooking but, unfortunately, most of its benefits are lost when garlic is heated, especially at very high temperatures. Raw garlic provides the highest medicinal properties and benefits, but there are more ways to get the most out of your garlic….
Slice It, Crush It, Let It Stand To Boost Garlic’s Potency
To maximize benefits, you should crush or slice your raw garlic and allow it to stand for about ten minutes before you consume or cook it. Allowing it to stand, as well as chopping it, both increase the activity of the potent enzyme allicin.
You could also double up on the amount you use when cooking to increase the health benefits. In addition, consider only adding garlic to dishes you cook below 140 degrees F. Also, try to add your garlic when you are almost finished cooking for maximum benefits.
To Incorporate More Garlic Into Your Diet, Try This Homemade Hummus Without Tahini Recipe:
Any Potential Side Effects Of Eating Garlic? Precautions?
Some people experience digestive upset, bloating or heartburn from eating raw or cooked garlic or even from taking certain garlic supplements. If you experience any of these, seek advice from your physician.
Garlic also has natural blood-thinning effects, so be sure to discuss its use with your doctor if you are on any blood-thinning medications, including aspirin.
TIP! Concerned About Garlic Breath?
Chew on this tasty herb which also has its own host of surprising health benefits as you can discover here…. Or chew on this refreshing & super-versatile, stomach-calming herb here…
How To Grow Your Own Garlic This Winter
If you live in a location where you can grow your own garlic outdoors this winter, be sure to choose a spot that is not overly shady. Ideally, pick a spot in the yard that gets at least six hours of sun a day.
When Should You Be Able To Harvest Your Garlic?
Plant your garlic now to harvest it next summer. Individual garlic cloves that are planted now should be ready for harvest in about six to seven months.
How Will You Know Your Garlic Is Ready To Be Harvested?
When its leaves start to yellow yet there are still four or five healthy leaves on each stem, your garlic should be ready for harvest.
Grow Your Own Garlic This Winter Step-By-Step
- Once you have done your autumn garden clean-up, add a bit of mulch to the soil. This aerates the soil and improves drainage. You may also add a time-released fertilizer if you choose.
- Separate your garlic bulb into individual cloves, being careful not to break them.
- Plant each clove with its flat end pointing down into the soil (pointy end up) between two (2) inches to three (3) inches deep (or 7.5 cm). Space each clove about six (6) inches apart (15 cm).
- Cover the soil with approximately six inches of mulch. This is especially important if you expect particularly cold weather.
- Water your garlic and make sure the soil stays fairly moist.
If your winter is especially mild, you may see green shoots poking up through the soil in as little as a few weeks. Layers of mulch should protect any new leaves from frosts, but don’t worry too much if a freeze kills the early growth as new growth should emerge in spring.
Don’t forget that you can snip some green shoots for cooking, then harvest the bulbs next summer as the leaves die away.
How Should You Store Your Garlic Bulbs?
Let your bulbs to dry in the sun, and then hang them out of direct sunlight in a cool, dark, dry and ventilated place. The bulbs should stay fresh for at least six months under these conditions.
Grow Your Own Garlic This Winter For Amazing Flavor & Health Benefits
That’s it! You never have to eat bland food again… Seriously, now that you know how easy it is, you really have no excuse not to grow your own fresh organic garlic at home.
Bookmark this page to cultivate your own inexpensive, organic superfood for the best flavor enhancer and health benefits in your own backyard.
Do you grow your own fresh garlic crop? Let us know some of your favorite uses for this amazing & versatile bulb in the comments…