by Cynthia Davis
As a plant-based cook in my home I cannot make a meal without including garlic! It’s the most important vegetable I use to create flavor in so many sauces, marinades and dressings. Just filling the kitchen with the smell of garlic cooking in the pan is enough to lift my spirits. This amazing root vegetable also provides our bodies with so many enriching health benefits. Garlic can reduce inflammation, regulate blood pressure and potentially kill cancer cells. It also boosts the efficiency of certain vitamins such as B6.
A few years ago I discovered how easy it is to grow organic garlic right outside my door. I had started a small garden with the basics: planting tomatoes, cucumbers and then branching out into different types of lettuces, snap peas and string beans. To supplement what I picked from my garden I found myself frequenting farmers markets and the organics section of the grocery and I began to ask myself, “what else can I grow that I am buying elsewhere?”.
Becoming a successful gardener is daunting for anyone. It takes years of trial and error, learning about soils, organic plant foods, plant health, what to plant each season, etc.. Not to mention figuring out how to protect your crop so you can harvest the goodies before the backyard bunnies and other wildlife get to them. I started as a complete amateur and am learning a bit more each season about each of these things from noting the successes and failures I’ve had.
I was so thrilled when I learned that garlic is an easy vegetable to grow. The hardest part is locating the best organic garlic with nice big bulbs. You can use your own organic bulbs from a previous planting or purchase your bulbs from another gardener or organic supplier. In New England, garlic is planted in late autumn before the ground freezes.
To plant the garlic: separate the individual organic bulbs and place them one at a time in the ground about 6 inches apart, with the pointed end up, just as though it were a tulip bulb. Cover the bulb about 2 inches deep. Then walk away and you’re done!
Forget about them over the winter and in the spring a little surprise begins to send shoots up out of the earth. They grow all spring and summer producing a curly flower scape at the top. I recommend you cut off the scapes so they don’t steal nutrients from the bulb. Chop them up and throw in the fry pan just like you would a scallion. You can even toss the entire scape on the grill and serve with other grilled veggies. Later in the summer, what’s left of the shoots will turn into a straw-like color grass indicating that it is time to pull your garlic.
I wait for that special garlic harvesting day all summer. I feel like I’ve accomplished something truly amazing when I see them come out of the earth. Try planting your bulbs and grow some natural and delicious medicine in your own backyard that will last for months!
Cynthia Davis is a decorative artist offering creativity and mindfulness classes and retreats in Fairfield, Connecticut. Cynthia has an MA in Intercultural Service, Leadership Management and has a professional Certificate Degree in Peace and Conflict Transformation from (SIT), The School of International Training in Brattleboro, Vermont. Cynthia founded Our Woven Community (OWC), a program providing a skill and community integration through small business for refugee women in Bridgeport, CT. She is an Africa Yoga Project certified yoga instructor and a has a plant-based nutrition certificate from the ECornell T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition.