Updated: Jan 9
A must have ingredient, worth growing in the backyard and to never leave behind!
I love growing my own garlic for many reasons. I might not always have success with every type of fruit or veggies in the garden but these alliums easily do very well each season. As a must have ingredient in the kitchen, I make sure I plant enough of them to enjoy the harvest all year. Reading that most imported garlic from the supermarket are grown with harmful chemicals and who knows what type of fertiliser, I really appreciate having the opportunity to consume organically grown varieties. Garlic contains many health benefits and helps boost the immune system. It brings a distinct flavour to meals, and countries around the world use it in many ways. The garlic scape and cloves are the best edible parts and last year, I pulled out the most beautiful big garlic heads I’ve ever grown. Just when I finished brushing them all, the holiday season went smoky as a result of the bushfires happening in the region and when we evacuated from the threat, we just took with us the most important things: passports, personal belongings, hard drives, cameras, a cat, a baby chook… I also made a quick basket of food including my last maple syrup cans, some jams and few of my pretty garlic bunches! Yes… I was going to make some photographs with them, very important to a certain level, but at that stage, it was just precious food not to waste. That made something nice to give to our lovely hosts giving us shelter and safety from that disastrous situation. We finally got back home, all safe and sound and I made this garlic photo session with what I had left, and here they are. I bet they have been our lucky charms!
Shooting the "survivor" garlic • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2020
GROWING & COOKING TIPS
In the garden, I’ve experimented with different cultivars and the hard neck type seems to do better in our cool climate zone. My winning variety has some purple on the peel and has a lovely strong taste. I never had pest or disease problems with them, and they themselves can repel unwanted bugs, like how the famed garlic breath does. As sown in some good rich draining soil in late autumn (May here), the winter rain does most of the job so there is nothing to do except mulching and weeding (garlic hate competition). Later in the season the “spears”or “scapes” (which is the flower stem of the hard neck varieties) starts to shoot and when long enough I just cut them as needed for cooking. Removing them is also good as the growth will concentrate on the bulb. When the plants start to die out, that is time to pull out the garlic. In early December, all my bunches are hanging to dry under the roof of my terrace… no vampires will come and bother us until Xmas time! Then I brush them to remove any remaining dirt, cut the leaves and hairy roots, store them at room temperature in a cool, dry, ventilated and dark place. I always reserve the biggest ones for planting the next crop, beautiful ones to give to friends and bunches of loose cloves for freezing. The rest keep for 5-6 months (more for soft neck varieties) before sprouting. I don’t need to give any cooking tips here as it is such a universal ingredient but I will share many recipes that will use it! Growing your own (in the garden or in a pot) or finding some local grown garlic at a farmer’s market near you is surely good for yourself, the environment and for supporting local and smaller scale farming.
Check out related posts, recipes and inspirations: (more to come!)