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Dec 29, 2009

GARLIC: 
Allium sativum
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Illustration at right by William Woodville,
Medical Botany, 1793
Above, Rocambole garlic illustration

Garlic is an extremely easy plant to grow in a sunny garden spot or in a large tub. While garlic plants grow quite tall, they don’t take up much horizontal space and maintenance is minimal. Flat leaves emerge from the clove. Later a stalk appears and grows to sixty cm, ending in infertile flowers. In cold weather the greens die back and the cloves are ready for harvest. Any unharvested cloves sprout again in warmer months.
Garlic is more closely related to the leek than to the onion.
What we call Levant or Elephant garlic is botanically a leek.
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USES:
Culinary:
Garlic is an essential ingredient in both European and Asian cuisine. It has a characteristic pungent, spicy flavour that mellows and sweetens considerably with cooking.
A Herbal Remedy: Garlic has both antiviral and antibacterial properties and can help boost the immune system, therefore good for relieving colds and flu. The health benefits from regularly eating garlic can include the favourable moderation of cholesterol levels, blood pressure readings and thinning of the blood. To get the best benefit from garlic, it is best to crush garlic up to 15 mins before eating it to give the enzymes time to work.
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VARIETIES- SOFTNECK or HARDNECK:
 

‘Softneck’ have no flower stem and produce large bulbous heads that store well; softneck garlic is the type you are more likely to find stocked in your grocery store.
‘Hardneck’  Some garlic lovers claime these varieties have the best flavours. Hardnecks produce a flower stalke (scape) like onions and have generally fewer cloves than softnecks but the cloves are larger and easier to peel. Planted bulbs can yield 5-8 times their weight at harvest time. A quarter kilogram of hardnecks will produce cloves for up to forty plants Most of the hardnecks do best where winters are cool, spring is damp and cool, and summer is dry and warm. Hardneck garlic heads are not as good for long-term storage.
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GROW YOUR OWN GARLIC

Why grown your own? You know your home-grown garlic is not placed in a cool-store for long term storage; is not treated with growth inhibitors and is not bleached with chemicals to give an artificially white appearance.
(The following comes from Better Homes & Gardens, Australia)

When: Plant garlic in autumn, ideally after the autumn equinox (20 March). Plants make the most of their leafy top growth during the shorter days of the year.
Where: Like most bulbs, garlic prefers a position in full sun. Before planting, improve the soil by digging through a little aged manure and/or compost. If you are planting in pots, be sure to use a top quality potting mix.
Climate: Garlic can be grown in both cool and warm climates, but does not suit tropical areas. This is because the bulb requires a period of cold in winter to form good cloves. 
 TIP 1: In warmer areas, chill the garlic bulb in the fridge for about six weeks before planting, just as you would for tulips. 
 TIP 2: A good variety for growing in warm climates like Brisbane is ‘Glenlarge’, pictured at right, which was developed by the Queensland DPI.
Feeding: Apply a controlled-release fertiliser at planting time. During the growing season you can also boost plants with doses of soluble fertiliser.
Watering: Water garlic plants over their growing season, just as you would for other vegetables. They will tolerate dry conditions, but will suffer if drought periods are prolonged. Withhold water in the period immediately before harvest as a precaution against fungal infections.
Harvesting: Garlic is ready for harvesting when the foliage starts to yellow and die off, in late spring to early summer. Dig up the plants when there are four or five green leaves still left on the stem. Hang the freshly dug garlic out to dry for about two weeks so the skin hardens; it can then be stored for up to seven months.
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Related Websites:
acta horticulturae: white rot abstract link
australian garlic farm sales: link
about hardneck garlic bulbs: link 
yahoo7 garlic recipes:
link
practically edible: australian food: link
American growers can check with Filaree Farm 
and The Garlic Store of the USA.
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Posted: Dec 29, 2009 8:55pm

 

 
 
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Jenny Dooley
, 3, 2 children
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