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We planted the garlic this week ready for next year’s harvest in June.

Garlic likes to be in over winter, as it needs a cold, dormant period of a couple of months to enable the bulbs to develop into a good size and allow adequate ripening through a long growing period. However, if the opportunity to plant in late Autumn is missed, the cloves can be planted in early Spring too.

We measured out where to plant the cloves…… 4 inches apart and in rows 8 inches apart, in our prepared “no-dig” beds. Some went in the poly tunnel to give it protection against any excess rainfall over Winter as they’re not so keen on being damp, and to hopefully get an earlier crop. Some outside to make the most of the colder weather.

“No-dig” is how we are trying to manage all of our garden, and the concept probably deserves a blog all to itself. Until then, check out Charles Dowding’s website for more information – he is our guru! In brief, rather than digging over the veg beds each year prior to planting to remove weeds, as is the traditional and tiring way of gardening, we just put down a layer of compost. When the bed is first made, a thick layer of cardboard is put down to mulch out the weeds underneath, and then 6 inches of compost is put on top. The picture below shows our new garlic and poppy bed.

Every year over Winter, the compost is topped up with a couple of inches more to keep the nutrient supply going. This way of gardening doesn’t, unfortunately, mean no weeding, but it is significantly less work than digging everything, and it definitely seems to keep control of the slugs and pests more effectively……another blog on this sometime too, perhaps!

Anyway, back to garlic! Garlic is delicious and has extremely powerful anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. It contains the chemical allicin (which causes the odour) but which is a known bactericide. Garlic is also known to help reduce blood pressure, regulate cholesterol levels and stimulate immunity. A study showed that supplementation of garlic reduced the number of common colds the subjects suffered, as well as the severity of symptoms and the speed of recovery. Consumption of garlic has also been shown to alter the gene expression of cancer related genes within hours of eating it, and there is a lower incidence of colonic and gastric cancer in people who eat garlic daily than in those who don’t. For more information on the nutritional and health benefits of garlic, click here.

Raw garlic retains significantly more of its goodness than cooked garlic, but both are great to include daily in your diet. DON’T use it externally though – if left on the skin, garlic can cause really nasty burns and blisters. Eating it is fine though, even in large quantities with no side effects (other than garlic breath!!)

Now, we just have to be patient until next year. Hopefully, we have planted enough cloves to harvest a full year supply (a lot!! as we use it every day) and have some spare to plant again next Autumn.

What’s your favourite way to use garlic? Let us know in the comments below.