by Lisa Giroday, Sandra Lopuch and Sam Philips | It’s fall, and while it’s been uncharacteristically nice outside and some of us are finally contemplating taking our tomatoes out, it is nevertheless high time to plant your culinary staple, garlic.
Garlic is a wonder crop indeed. Its immunity boosting and general health benefits are endless. A member of the allium family, garlic is a southern European perennial – meaning it grows back every year – and yet we harvest the plant for its bulb, so we need to re-plant annually. Not only does garlic have its place in most of the dishes we make, we know that it helps during cold season, as garlic is packed with antioxidants to boost our immune systems. It also has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties.
What’s more, garlic is great for cardiovascular health – it lowers blood pressure, regulates cholesterol, and thins the blood. Garlic is even said to combat athlete’s foot. Is there anything it can’t do?
Garlic is perfect for growing in our cool climate, and the stuff you grow on your own always tastes so damn good. Our favourite variety to grow is Red Russian. Here are a few planting pointers:
Remember to plant garlic in a spot that gets full sun in the summer. Add compost before you plant! Work in a 2″ layer of compost and add a dusting of a granular all-purpose organic fertilizer with an equal three-part nutrient ratio. Plant cloves with the skin on, 4″-6” apart, in staggered rows.
After planting and at the end of October when the leaves have fallen from the trees and are all crispy and brown, add a 3-4″ layer of leaves on top of the soil like a blanket to regulate soil temperatures, prevent nutrients from leaching, and fight against soil erosion.