Few items we grow in the garden are surrounded by such a colorful history as the humble garlic. Cultures worldwide have long held garlic in high esteem, attributing it with powers both to heal and repel that which would do us harm. Sanskrit records dating back 5,000 years name it a medicine, and the Chinese have been using it as such for at least 3,000 years. Hippocrates, he of the famed Hippocratic Oath still sworn to by doctors today, prescribed garlic for everything from infections to leprosy as far back as 300 BC. Even Louis Pasteur, one of the founders of modern bacteriology, noted garlic's antibacterial properties. More recent studies indicate garlic is efficient in the prevention of heart disease and cancer and can even help eliminate heavy metals from the body. Of course this time of year, on the cusp of Halloween, the association between garlic and vampires is unavoidable.
Although many cultures, including the ancient Greeks, held the belief that garlic could ward off evil, it is central Europe we most often associate with this myth. But all legend, myths, and superstitions aside, it's garlic's unique flavor that keeps us coming back for more.
We love to plant our garlic as soon as the ground gets cold. This puts the bulbs in a dormant state that allows them to slowly begin setting roots and establishing a firm foundation for next summer's harvest. Our planting bed was established with organic compost 3 years ago and has produced bumper crops every year since. The bed uses emitter tubing with 9" spacing for watering and this fall we augmented the soil with Vital Earth products including powdered glacial rock and mycorrhizal fungi. Then we made 5 trenches, each about 4 inches deep, running the length of the raised bed. Next we placed a clove of garlic every 4 inches with the pointed end facing up. Our U-shaped hold down stakes keep the emitter tubing in place.