The garlic is almost ready to harvest at Cowlick Cottage Farm! It is looking big, lush and healthy, and I can barely stop myself from pulling some out of the ground right now. But it is not quite ready yet, and I must wait until the leaves begin to droop and yellow from the bottom of the plant up, a visual cue that plump perfection has been attained. Once harvested, each bulb will be cured in a temperate, dry area to maximize flavor and storage ability. I haven’t figured out exactly where in my house I am going to cure a few hundred pungent garlic bulbs, but I can guarantee that even though Monticello is reputed to be one of the ghostliest towns in the country, we will be free of vampires and evil spirits for awhile! Good spirits are always welcome to hang around.
I planted several varieties of high-quality organic garlic seed–the beautiful Inchelium Red, Ajo Rojo–the rare favorite of Creole cooks, Susanville–in honor of my best friend, the heirloom Lorz Italian, Transylvanian–to prevent an onslaught of vampires, and the egotistical and rich Russian Giant. I had no idea that there are so many types of garlic that vary so much in flavor and texture. Hot, mild, tender, wild! Our garlic is grown with no herbicides or pesticides and is fed only organic fertilizer, worm castings and compost. We should be able to store and enjoy it through winter, until we harvest a fresh crop next spring. We will save about half of this crop to plant in the fall. If you are interested obtaining seed to grow your own garlic or to eat, e-mail me (Carolyn) or send me a comment!
Garlic is not only indispensable in the kitchen, it is also reputed to have many health benefits, including:
· Lowering blood pressure and cholesterol and reducing plaque
· Regulating blood sugar
· Preventing blood clots
· Preventing cancer
· Removing heavy metals
· Acting as a natural broad spectrum antibiotic (including fighting MRSA!)
· Anti-fungal and anti-viral properties
· It’s an aphrodisiac! Just kidding on that one…
A Google search on garlic and health will provide a great deal of information that you never knew you needed. I was surprised to discover that most of the garlic we buy in the average American grocery store hails from China. Much of it is irradiated to lengthen shelf life, which purportedly destroys its natural health benefits. There is no law that requires producers to inform consumers when a product is irradiated—isn’t that just a little bit disturbing? I wonder what else is being irradiated? And what exactly is the irradiation process? Food for thought, pun intended. The average grocery store garlic is also sprayed with a chemical that prevents it from sprouting, so that it maintains a longer shelf life. Don’t bother trying to plant grocery store garlic—it most likely won’t grow! At a minimum, I suggest you check the label on garlic and make sure that it’s grown in the U.S.A. Even better, buy organic. Even better than buying organic? Plant some! Organic gardening makes you an activist, but that is yet another post.
Try some fresh, organic garlic, and you will see, smell, taste and maybe even feel the difference!