“Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food,” so said Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician who actually used to prescribe garlic to treat a variety of medical conditions. Garlic is an immune-boosting food and is widely used in cooking.
Garlic is a species in the onion genus Allium and its botanical name is Allium sativum. It is said to be native to China and the Mediterranean. It is also widely used not only in Indian cuisine but also as traditional medicine with amazing health benefits.
Sattvic cuisine does not favour garlic at all. In fact Jains and many Hindus do not use garlic in their cooking because it is felt that garlic stimulates and heats up the body leading to an increase in the libido. One does not know if there is any scientific basis to this belief, however, the fact is, it is almost a necessary item of the cuisine; Indian, Chinese, Mediterranean of Western.
In India, a lot of garlic is imported from China mainly because of the price and this has dampened the Indian cultivation. As with many other Chinese products, one is rather skeptical about its quality and methods of production. With the Indian variety not being freely available, one buys the Chinese variety out of necessity.
It is not very difficult to grow garlic at home for your own needs. One really does not need a field or a large area to grow garlic. It can be grown in pots too. All it needs is your will and the paraphernalia to growing garlic. The benefits are many: reliable produce, money saving and the accompanying satisfaction of consuming a safe produce.
So, let us see how we can grow garlic at home. Let us understand its main parts: the entire garlic is called a bulb while the segments that combine together are called cloves and of course it has a stem and root. Garlic like ginger grows below the soil. It can be grown through-out the year in milder climates.
- Garlic bulb (organic)
- Potting soil with dry compost
- Pot or container
Prepare the pot or container (use a medium or large size). Loosely fill the pot with the potting soil after adding the dry compost. Separate the cloves from the bulb and select large size cloves. Plant each clove vertically (with the pointer end upwards) into the soil at a depth of 1 inch, 4 inches apart. Cover the cloves with soil such that these are at least 1 inch below the top soil. Water the pot such that the soil is moist. Do not over-water as this could damage the cloves. Place the pot where direct sunlight is available. Keep a check on the plant daily and water if the soil becomes dry.
Once the green shoots (usually about 5 or 6) reach a height of 3 – 4 inches, clip off about an inch or so. This helps it to re-grow and you will notice that the growth stops after some time. The plant turns brown and starts drying. This is the time to dig up the plant. Hang the harvested garlic to dry and then store them away from sunlight. You can continue the process of planting to ensure that you get a steady supply of garlic.
A little bit of effort and you can grow your own vegetables in your kitchen garden. The best thing is that since you do not use harmful chemical pesticides what you get is an organic produce that you can consume without any fear of your body being subjected to the ill-effects of these pesticides.
Stanley Varghese for IndiaProperty.com