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4 Reasons to Grow Your Own Garlic

With garlic so universally available in stores, is there really a reason to grow it? Why, yes! Here are 4 very good reasons to grow garlic.

An abundant garlic harvest (The Grow Network)

Image by Camanisa from Pixabay

4 Reasons to Grow Your Own Garlic

For those of you who have an outdoor garden, there are some great reasons to grow your own garlic. Garlic is one of my favorite crops to grow. It’s also one of my most important sources of food, flavor, and herbal home medicine.

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Reason #1: Grows in the Off Season

In my North Carolina climate (and in most temperate climate regions), garlic can be planted in mid-fall exactly when most summer crops are timing out. Then, it can be harvested in mid-spring just when other staple foods like corn, sunflowers, blackeyed peas, and sweet potatoes need to go in the ground. That makes it a perfect crop to fill an otherwise difficult planting time.

Reason #2: Great for Crop Rotations

Besides that, I grow garlic in my crop rotation after potatoes to help break up pest and pathogen cycles. Since I heavily amend and loosen the soil before planting potatoes, no additional work is needed to prepare soil for garlic.

Garlic is also great at gleaning nutrients like N-P-K left over from spring and summer planting. Other than incorporating a little bone meal at the root zone to encourage bulb development, and some top-applied mulch to keep down early weeds, garlic makes for a low maintenance addition to your crop-rotation schedule.

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Reason #3: Garlic Calories Add Up

Most people don’t think of garlic as a calorie crop. But if you use it as much as I do, it starts to add up. Between daily cooking and using it medicinally at certain times of the year, my family averages about 250 heads of garlic per person. At 50 calories a head, that totals 13,000 calories a year to help you reach the 365,000 calories you need to supply half your food at home.

Those calories are produced in the off-season too. Plus, you can plant about 4-6 cloves of garlic per square foot, depending on variety. That means you can get those 13,000 calories in just under 50 square feet of garden bed space.

Reason #4: Save Money

It costs nearly a dollar a head for organic garlic where I live. I bought some organic seed garlic for about $60 several years ago. Now I produce over $500 of it a year organically at home for just a few dollars in bone meal and straw.

I save my own seed garlic from healthy plants and use good crop rotations to ensure that my seed garlic stays disease-free. Frankly, I can’t believe how much money I save growing my own garlic.

A gardener holding her garlic harvest (The Grow Network)

Image by Mike Hansen from Pixabay

Garlic is one of the most important culinary spices and medicines in just about every home arsenal. It’s flavor-packed and nutrient-rich. Plus, along with a healthy diet and exercise, garlic is about the easiest medicine you can use to promote good health and prevent illness without a prescription. Growing your own is a fantastic way to ensure you always have the highest quality garlic on hand for your culinary and medicinal needs!

What Do You Think?

If you grow your own garlic, please share any tips or tricks you’ve got for getting a good crop! We love to spread good gardening skills here at TGN!

 

Garlic: Your First Home Medicine

 

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This post was written by Tasha Greer

COMMENTS(24)

  • Scott Sexton says:

    I love garlic as an herbal medicine. But it’s so effective, it can feel like cheating.

    One of my kids had a staph infection on his leg a while ago. I was using a certain mix of herbs to fight and draw out the infection. It was working, but not as quickly as I would have liked. So I threw my hands up and said, “Fine! We’ll just use garlic!”

    The next morning, when I unwrapped the poultice, all the fluid had been pulled right to the surface and the infection was good and dead. Sometimes I wonder, “Why do I even go to the trouble of formulating herbal mixes when I could just use garlic?” Ha.

    1. Tasha Greer says:

      Hey Scott – That’s a funny story and nice evidence of the power of garlic. There’s still a lot of folklore in my area about uses for garlic. Around here, some people chop up garlic and onions and use them as a paste on the bottoms of their feet to draw out any internal infection. Then they wrap their feet and sleep. They say that by morning, the paste turns black and whatever ails them is better. I don’t know where the idea hails from. But, I tried it once and had to wash my feet a few minutes later because the aroma kept me from falling asleep. That made me think that maybe the pungency of raw garlic is a factor in your decision to use other herbs for your kids sometimes… Thanks for reading and sharing your experience!

    2. Emily Sandstrom says:

      Wonderful idea. Dr. Patrick Jones tells how to use prickly pear as a poultice too. Crushed garlic directly on an open would might adhere to the surface. Don’t know.

  • teachercaryn says:

    After cutting garlic, it rests on the counter for five minutes before adding to salads to receive the maximum benefits. Also, I made garlic oil with organic garlic from a csa. (Community Supported Agriculture) and used an organic extra virgin olive oil. Cheers!

    1. Tasha Greer says:

      Sounds delicious! Do you ever get the garlicscapes in your CSA? There’s some evidence that they have the allicin effect too. Most grocery store garlic is soft neck and doesn’t have scapes, But CSAs sometimes have hard neck varieties. I actually have some large patches of garlic I grow just for the scapes. I love to chop them up and put them in my olive oil and elderberry vinegar dressing.

    2. Emily Sandstrom says:

      Any organic substance in any oil (and that includes garlic butter) can produce a deadly colorless odorless tasteless bacteria. Such preparations should be refrigerated and should be used soon.

      1. Tasha Greer says:

        Hey Emily – Thanks for the tip on refrigerating oil based dressings . I make mine on fresh with each salad. But sometimes I make too much and refrigerate the left overs. The flavor holds up better if refrigerated too.

  • Emily Sandstrom says:

    Decades ago, Scientific American had a long article in which garlic was whacked, then anallyzed molecularly with an instrument. A LOT of whacks, more than twenty, and an analysis after each whack. They determined that each whack produced more allicin. (o you could say garlic is a masochist.)

    Sometimes I put the garlic, skin and all, in a baggie and whack the whole head with a sledge hammer (a small one I use in the kitchen), then pick the skins out (although I speculate that, like onion peel, there’s benefit in the skins, which you could put in stews and rice). This method saves cleaning a container, but of course that baggie is plastic, and it would be better to use a cloth bag. I’m not that much of a purist, myself.

    1. Tasha Greer says:

      There’s probably a good bit of stress relief involved in whacking garlic too! I’m a knife crusher myself. I use a large flat knife to individually crush each clove skins on. I let them sit for a while on the cutting board, then I put them through my garlic press with the skins. I use onion and garlic skins in bone stock too so they don’t go to waste!

      Thanks for sharing and giving us another great way to use garlic and relieve stress!

  • harpiano says:

    I LOVE garlic. I love how it cures so many things. I didn’t know that leaving it crushed for 10 minutes helps to not loose effectiveness when cooking. That is great to know!
    I wish I could figure out how to grow it in Hawaii though. I’ve tried putting in fridge for 4 months prior to planting, but it doesn’t work. If anyone has knowledge of how to grow it in the tropics I’d love to hear from you! I found one person commercially growing it here, but they won’t share any information with me on how to grow. I feel I have everything in place in case of an emergency but not the garlic and haven’t found an alternative plant that I can grow in Hawaii.

    1. Tasha Greer says:

      Have you tried any of the Creole garlic varieties? They are supposed to be better for hot weather. I grow the Moroccan Creole and it tastes amazing. They don’t store as long and need really well-draining soil. But, I’ve even gotten a decent harvest spring planting those.

      1. harpiano says:

        FINALLY! my internet will let me reply Tasha. I have not tried the creole, but will thank you. Where do you live? We also have high high humidity always. I don’t know if that’s a problem too because I can’t grow onions either.

        1. Tasha Greer says:

          I’m in North Carolina, USDA Zone 7A,. We have a lot of humidity too. Though not always. Garlic and onions don’t seem to mind the humidity as long as I have a lot of organic matter in my soil that goes deep. I also only water if the soil is dry more than an inch down to protect the stems and bulbs from rot. With onions, you need to grow the right type. We can only grow medium day varieties to full-size in my area. I also grow short day onions for fresh eating, not long storage. I do grow the long day types too. However, I grow them for mini-bulbs that I use to make cocktail onions or to dry and powder. There are a lot more long day heirlooms out there to choose from, so I even though they aren’t well suited to my location, I use them for their taste profiles in small quantities. I hope the creole works for you!

          Almost forgot, you might want to try Egyptian Walking onions as another option if you can’t grow traditional onions.

  • cre8tiv369 says:

    My garlic is alway organic, and I use it in every way I possibly can. I love garlic and don’t mind smelling like it either.

    When cooking with garlic, adding it at the start of cooking mellows it to a nuance, adding in the middle of cooking delivers a much broader spectrum of garlic flavor, and adding it at the end of cooking delivers some serious garlic punch. I usually add it at all three stages of cooking if the dish will allow (as long as it won’t burn the garlic, which is really really easy to burn). For soups, stews, braises, and a few other dishes, I love whole cloves that get soft, and end up mild, but I usually add in crushed garlic (in addition) that has been squeezed and pulverized via garlic press.

    (My favorite garlic press to date is the Joseph Joseph helix garlic press, they run about $10 bucks and delivers great results, really easy to use, great for elderly or folks with arthritis,)

    The garlic press is by far my favorite method to prep garlic. When I get a cold, I press a bunch of garlic in a little ramekin or small bowl and eat a spoonful (chew it in the mouth for as long as you can take the pain), it will make you tear up and move some congestion around) and then I chase it with OJ or warm tea.

    I take a daily garlic pill just for s#its and giggles, cud it can’t hurt. Sometimes, for nasty colds, I have swallowed small cloves whole, like a pill, (so it makes it further down the digestive track before breaking down, but don’t do that unless you are not planning on being social with others).

    I don’t know if the allicin survives digestion and I don’t really care. Garlic is good for you no matter how you consume it, and you can’t overdose on it. I firmly believe that there is no wrong way to eat/take garlic, your body will be happy and if you love the taste like I do, your mouth will be happy too.

    In a Sauté’ with butter and wine, or soups, stews, baked in bread, or on bread, or Scarlett’s Pasta (from the movie “Chef”), or pills, or raw, or green, it’s all good and very very much the right way to take it.

    1. Tasha Greer says:

      Amazing suggestions on use! I love that you put it in all phases of cooking. I usually start some when I am heating the pan. Then I add some at the end right when I turn off the heat. But, you’ve convinced me I need to try it in the middle now too!

  • Emily Sandstrom says:

    Oh, I forgot. This is THE most delicious sauce. Garlic greens (Put a clove in a flower pot, cut greens later) and BABY basil leaves, heated gentlly in butter. (If you sleep with someone, have them eat some too; it does strange things to your breath.) Put on anything: pasta, steak … logs.

    1. Tasha Greer says:

      I have to try this! Thanks for the recipe!

  • Ajuwah says:

    I picked up parasites after traveling in Mexico. I know I had them, I could feel them moving around in my stomach. I decided to use garlic to get rid of the pests. I chopped up 2-3 cloves of garlic and swallowed that twice a day. I didn’t chew them thinking that would save me from stinky breath. After a couple of days, my stomach was still very upset with a lot of rumbling and gurgling, it sounded like the parasites were having a big party in my belly. I decided to take a third helping of garlic right before bed. When I woke the next morning my belly was quiet!, no more rumbling. 2-3 cloves of chopped garlic 3 times a day was the beginning of my protocol with parasites. Oh, and for my breath I chewed a couple of pieces of Clove, the spice. The oil from the Cloves seemed to do the trick for my breath and it also does a number on the parasites. I’ve learned a lot about parasites and garlic lately. Hate the one, LOVE the other.

    1. Tasha Greer says:

      Thanks for sharing your story on garlic. I love your descriptions of how you listened to your body – from feeling the parasites, to them throwing a party, to the silence. That’s so key with home treatment and figuring out the right dosing. Also, thanks for the tip on cloves for the breath. I’m a fennel seed chewer. But they don’t always fully mask the scent from raw garlic.

  • Navin says:

    Any Idea if I use fermented garlic. Fermented in Cultured Vegetables. Thanks!

    1. Tasha Greer says:

      It looks like a lot depends on the fermentation method and bacteria involved. But a number of studies seem to point to fermented garlic being beneficial in a number of ways. I found this study that shows some forms of fermentation (dried garlic, 50% moisture) dramatically increase antioxidant benefits. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6475743/. This article shows black garlic could be really good for the brain. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5216880/. This one shows that fermented blanched garlic t could be be beneficial for cholesterol and blood pressure. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/726f/dec9822da5da91a242c90f7a7fb3edbab71e.pdf Also, there’s some evidence that garlic plays a role in acidifying fermented food and helps with the preservation. https://sfamjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1046/j.1365-2672.2002.01544.x. Like cooking though, it looks like many of the allicin benefits are reduced. Thanks for the great questions!

  • DurwardPless says:

    This be one of the plants I am sure to grow.

  • MissPatricia says:

    Another reason that is important to me is the ability to grow it organically as garlic from China is grown in human manure supposedly. It is really easy to grow and saves a lot of money.

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