Pungent goodness – garlic
We have just had our first delivery of lovely organic garlic at Green Harvest this afternoon and we haven’t stopped talking about how to grow it! How to eat it! Best way to peel it! Garlic in olive oil, garlic in baked camembert! How to plant it! Is it really an allium or really a leek? We also made a pact when the garlic arrived, to all take some home and eat it the same nights so breathing remains easy at work.
You can either buy the bulbs to eat now or to plant in March through April if you are in a warmer climate. Planting after April will reduce the size of the bulbs. In cooler climates it can be planted in autumn or spring. But now is a great time to be preparing your beds for garlic if you are going to grow it – planting cloves too early and the heavens could fall and they may end up rotting. Garlic does best in light, well-drained soil and likes full sun. So once you decide on the right spot in the garden, you can improve the soil by adding compost or well-rotted animal manures before planting.
Different varieties vary in their suitability for different climate zones. In our region of south east Queensland, you can try ‘Glen Large‘ and, although not a true garlic but rather a leek, Elephant Garlic (growing information) should be given a go. In cooler areas ‘Italian White‘, ‘Red Rocambole‘ and ‘Purple Monaro‘ do extremely well. Separate the garlic bulb into cloves before planting. The tops of the bulbs should be just below the soil surface. The flatter or root end should be pointing down. Plant cloves about 10 cm apart, in rows about 40 cm apart.
Garlic’s uses are many and varied, it can be baked, boiled, sautéed and grilled. It is very nutritious, being high in vitamins A, B1, B2 and C. Although I haven’t tried it, apparently the young leaves and sprouts are considered a delicacy. Tonight I’m taking home some precious bulbs of Elephant Garlic (growing information) which I’m going to roast along with pumpkin and beetroot. That’ll be served with Puy lentils drizzled with preserved lemon dressing and topped with goats curd. Some crusty bread and a glass of shiraz and I can’t help thinking – life is good!