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Dec 29, 2009

Allium sativum

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.
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.

‘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.

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.
Related Websites:
acta horticulturae: white rot abstract link
australian garlic farm sales: link
about hardneck garlic bulbs: link 
yahoo7 garlic recipes:
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
Jun 30, 2008
Focus: Consumer Rights
Action Request: Read
Location: Australia

Cotton Farms, Pesticides and Health + Quiz 

Try this quiz, then check your answers in the passage following:

  1. The biggest and 2nd biggest producers of cotton in the world are:
    1. China and India
    2. America and Egypt
    3. China and America
    4. Fiji and Australia
  2. Cotton workers exposed to pesticides can get:
    1. cancer
    2. neurological and visual disorders
    3. chromosomal abberations, cell death and cell cycle delay
    4. all of these
  3. Decide which of the following statements about cotton are true for today:
    1. Cotton is widely used as livestock feed
    2. Cotton is used in food products e.g. crackers, salad dressing
    3. "Monoculture" of cotton crops has caused the crop to be vulnerable to pests and diseases
    4. Californian cotton farms don't use any carcinogenic pesticides.
  4. Pesticides and Human Health

    • In California, five of the top nine pesticides used on cotton are cancer-causing chemicals (cyanazine, dicofol, naled, propargite and trifluralin).
    • In Egypt, more than 50% of cotton workers in the 1990s suffered symptoms of chronic pesticide poisoning, including neurological and vision disorders.
    • In India, 91% of male cotton workers exposed to pesticides eight hours or more per day experienced some type of health disorder, including chromosomal aberrations, cell death and cell cycle delay.
    • In the US, a 1987 National Cancer Institute Study found a nearly seven-fold higher risk of leukemia for children whose parents used pesticides in their homes or gardens.
    • The World Health Organization estimates that at least three million people are poisoned by pesticides every year and 20-40,000 more are killed.
    • Over 1 million Americans will learn they have some form of cancer and 10,400 people in the U.S. die each year from cancer related to pesticides

      Clothes for a Change: Background Info

      Cotton, which is native to Southern Africa and South America, is grown on over 90 million acres in more than 80 countries worldwide. The millions of tons of cotton produced each year account for 50% of the world's fibre needs (wool, silk and flax together account for 10%) and is widely used as livestock feed and in food products such as salad dressing and crackers.

      The United States is the second largest cotton producer in the world after China. In 1997, approximately 19 million bales (enough to make 9 billion T-shirts) were grown in 18 states.

      Cotton and the Environment

      Despite cotton's image as being a natural and pure fibre, conventional cotton farming takes an enormous toll on the air, water, soil and people who live in cotton growing areas.

      In the United States, 1/3 (lb) pound of agricultural chemicals are typically used in the production of a single cotton T-shirt.

      The growth of Industrial agriculture and consolidation in the seed industry has replaced hundreds of cotton varieties with only a handful. The practice of planting thousands of acres all of the same variety is known as monoculture and has left the crop extremely vulnerable to pests and diseases and forced cotton farmers onto what is known as the "chemical treadmill."

      How Do They Do It? - Organic Cotton Farmers

      The soil: Organic Farming starts with a healthy soil. The soil is seen as a living system and not simply a growing medium for plants.
      Read more here.

      Weed Control: Organic Farmers have many options to control weeds including:

      1. crop rotations,
      2. planting several crops together (intercropping),
      3. more efficient use of irrigation water,
      4. and more, read here.

      Pest Control: By encouraging biological diversity... read more here

      • In Peru, cotton farmers have saved over $100 per acre in pesticide and fertilizer costs by switching over to organic production.
      • In Tanzania organic cotton farmers plant sunflowers to encourage beneficial ants that feed on the larvae of the bollworm, and fertilize the soil with manure from their cattle.
      • In India, organic farmers intercrop cotton with pigeon peas and make insecticidal sprays from garlic, chili and the neem tree.
      • In California, organic cotton farmers plant habitat strips of vegetation such as alfalfa near their fields as a refuge for beneficial insects

      Click here for the original Care2 Organic Consumers Association article

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Posted: Jun 30, 2008 8:36pm


Content and comments expressed here are the opinions of Care2 users and not necessarily that of or its affiliates.


Jenny Dooley
, 3, 2 children
Eastlakes, SW, Australia
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