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  • Writer's pictureAnnemarie Bolduc

Precious Garlic

Updated: Dec 12, 2023

A must-have ingredient, worth growing in the backyard and never leaving behind!

Another good harvest of garlic • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2022

I love growing garlic for many reasons. I might not always have success with every type of fruit or veggie 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 is grown with harmful chemicals, I really appreciate having the opportunity to consume organically grown ones. Garlic contains many health benefits and helps boost the immune system. And yes, we need it! Garlic brings a distinct flavour to meals, and countries worldwide use it in many ways. While the "Black Summer" (2019-20) began, I pulled some beautiful garlic heads. Just when I finished brushing them all, the holiday season went smoky due to the bushfires happening in the region. 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… and my pretty garlic bunches! I was glad to have them as they made something nice to give to hosts sheltering us. 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 are the flower stems of the hard neck varieties) start to shoot and when long enough they can be cut as needed for cooking. Removing the scapes is also good, as the growth will concentrate on the bulb. When the plants start to die, it is time to pull out the garlic heads. 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, and store them at room temperature in a cool, dry, ventilated, dark place. If well stored, they can be kept for 5-6 months before sprouting. I always freeze a bunch of gloves for longer storage, and make some garlic and herb salts as preserves.


Cooking with the backyard garlic • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2019-22


I don’t need to give any cooking tips here as it is a universal ingredient but I use garlic in many recipes like this delicious Garlic and Herbs Roast Chicken. Growing your own or finding locally grown garlic at a farmer’s market near you is surely good for yourself, the environment and for supporting local and smaller-scale farming.


Garlic photography compositions • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2023


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