Traditionally, garlic (Allium sativum Liliaceae) should be planted on the shortest day of the year and harvested on the longest day of the year. It is not the only time to plant it, but it is a good time to do it. Allium includes garlic, onions, leeks, chives and shallots.
Gillian Polson (a founder member of the Canterbury Herb Society in the 1960's) explained the way she planted garlic on the 21st of June (shortest day):
"Prepare the ground and after breaking the garlic bulb into separate cloves, press each clove into the ground about 25mm - 50mm deep and 150 mm apart. On the longest day - (21 December(or perhaps a little later in the cooler climate of the south of the country)- you will harvest as many bulbs as you have planted cloves".
Plant garlic next to roses, beneath apple and peach trees and near tomatoes as a companion plant. However, do not plant garlic close to peas, beans, cabbages and strawberries as they don't thrive when in close proximity.
Garlic enhances so many savoury dishes, sauces, vinegars, breads, marinades and herb butters. In meat, fish and savoury dishes garlic can be cooked or finely chopped and used raw. Wipe a salad bowl with a clove of garlic or use garlic vinegar in salad dressings.
Garlic is seen as a natural antibiotic, it is good for chest conditions, infections and helps to build up the body against infection, it is a tonic herb and has good results with rheumatism. (Disclaimer - herbal health remedies is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice).
We love to make fermented honey and garlic as it boosts immunity and could help to keep the colds and sore throats at bay. It is simple to make:
- Take enough (2-4 bulbs of garlic), break it apart and gently bruise and peel each whole clove of garlic. (Do not chop or mince the garlic but if they are very large, you could halve them).
- Add whole garlic cloves to an empty jam jar, leaving about an inch or two at the top. Pour good quality honey over the garlic until the garlic is completely covered. You want to prevent the garlic from being exposed to oxygen.
- Close the lid and allow it to infuse for at least three weeks in a dark cupboard. While it is infusing, turn the bottle regularly.
- When lots of bubbles start appearing, burp the bottle by opening the lid to release the gas.
- Eat a candied garlic clove every day and use the honey in salad dressings.