I was harvesting my garlic yesterday and realized how it should definitely be one of the plants we chat about this year. It is beneficial to nearly every system of the body. It can boost your immune system, it is a healer if you have infection, inflammation, chronic respiratory ailments and more, so much more. If you're a science lover, you'll like this article with some of the more scientific benefits of garlic.
Plant your own garlic
Garlic is so easy to grow. If I can do it, anyone can do it. First, break up a head of garlic, into individual cloves, leaving the paper thin skin intact. Each clove can be placed approximately 2" in the earth, 6" apart from one another, before the ground freezes in the fall. It is best to choose a sunny location with well-drained soil, and mulch is never a bad idea.
My entire yarden is straw (mulch at its finest). I decided a handful of years ago that I was done mowing the grass, it just didn't make sense. I covered our entire front yard in straw to kill the grass, and I reapply straw each fall (or spring if I have a particularly busy fall). Here are the deets on our yarden.
I'm not telling you to kill your grass and fill your front yard with straw, but it has been the best place for me to grow a lot of our food. So, maybe I am telling you to kill your grass?
The harvest of garlic happens near the end of summer, but there is a remarkable 'in between time' when garlic scapes show up. These are spirally green shoots that come from the center of the garlic plant. They can easily be broken off, diced, and popped in any dish you prepare. When the time comes to harvest big heads of garlic, you'll know because the plant will yellow and tip over a bit. It will look more sad than it did earlier in the summer. After the head is removed from the earth, it is best to let it cure for a week or so, on a screen in an arid place. Put one clove in the earth, pull one head out, now that's magic.
Garlic is an anti-septic, anti-microbial, diaphoretic, cholagogue, antispasmodic, digestive, diuretic, expectorant, carminative, and the list goes on. In my opinion, it should be part of our regular diet. The benefits to the body are endless.
Garlic can help regulate cholesterol (reducing LDL levels). It is great for the circulatory system and heart health. Garlic contains anti-oxidants that can be good for prevention of alzheimers and dementia. It counteracts joint pain and inflammation, and is a good addition to your diet if you are fighting infection or in need of an immune boost. Garlic can also regulate liver and gallbladder function. Sheesh buddy, what can't you do.
Since garlic is spicy, it seems a bit counter-intuitive that it would be a digestive aid, but it is! Chronic digestive issues may be remedied by adding garlic to your food.
How do we use Garlic in our Family?
We take a tincture regularly for inflammation, aches and pains. I put it in almost all of our food, it is one of my favorite flavors and when I think about the benefits it brings all of us, it is hard to resist.
Remember garlic is spicy. I only recently started the raw version with my kids. They would have been so sad if I fed it to them when they were little. I always share the rule of thumb, try something yourself before you share it with your kids.
If I feel a cold coming on, I eat a whole bunch of garlic. I figure the only bad thing that will happen is my breath will stink. Even after we have colds/flu we eat garlic because it will shorten the length of whatever bug we've got in our bodies. We eat it more frequently if we have respiratory or bronchial stuff going on, it is an excellent respiratory healer. Garlic activates our immune systems and offers protection, and I sure love being protected by plants.
And, you can braid your harvest, if you grow enough. I'm here to tell you it doesn't have to be perfect. There are about a million tutorials online to teach you how, apparently I didn't watch one this year when I made my braid.
I know that I've talked about my tarot deck before, my favorite deck being The Herbal Tarot. The Tower card just happens to be Garlic. This card, to me, means that I need to approach a situation in a different way. Carrying a bit of garlic in a pouch to invoke some strength, purification and protection can't hurt anyone.
*psst - That link above is an affiliate link, if you can find this deck from someone locally, do that.
A cool tidbit
When I was in herb school, I learned how to maximize the effects of the allicin in garlic. What is allicin? It is a compound found in garlic that fights infection and viruses, including the common cold. Take a clove of garlic, peel it, dice it up and count to eleven. Eat that garlic after eleven seconds to get the most bang for your buck.
And, it is highly nutritious and it barely has any calories.