An Ode to Garlic

Harvested, dried garlic bulbs - ready to eat!

Harvested, dried garlic bulbs - ready to eat!

Garlic is one of my very favorite herbs. It has amazing health benefits, is the basis of nearly every savory dish I cook, and it's fun to grow.

This impressive bulb can impart energy and vitality, improve digestion and absorption and cleanse the body of toxins. It helps protect the body against the effects of pollution and nicotine. Acting as a powerful antioxidant, garlic helps to slow the aging process and protect against degenerative disease. Garlic is famous as a remedy for heart and circulation, reducing blood pressure and a tendency to clotting, thereby helping to prevent heart attacks and strokes.

The ancient Egyptians knew all about garlic’s energy giving properties, because the builders of the Great Pyramid at Giza apparently ate garlic to give them strength. The Romans too gave it to their workmen and soldiers to impart vigor as well as courage. To the Greeks, garlic was a symbol of strength. The athletes at the Olympic Games used to chew garlic before taking part to improve their chances of victory. Since such times until the present day garlic has been much valued for its great ability to ward off infection, to combat food poisoning, diarrhea, dysentery, wind and colic.

It is an effective antibacterial, antiviral, anti fungal and anti-parisitic remedy, shown to be equal to antibiotics such as penicillin. Garlic is excellent for sore throats, coughs, colds, flu, bronchitis and asthma. It helps to clear phlegm, sinus congestion and hay fever. Also helps to reestablish beneficial bacterial population in the gut after an infection or using antibiotics; a good remedy for candidiasis and thrush. By enhancing the secretion of insulin, it can help lower blood sugar in diabetics. The sulfur compounds in garlic are thought to have anti-tumor properties, protecting the body against cancer. Regular intake of garlic may significantly lower harmful cholesterol and thereby protect against heart and arterial disease.

A tip from Anthony Williams, the Medical Medium, author of Life-Changing Foods: “If you feel like you’re coming down with something like a sore throat, cold or flu, mince one raw clove of garlic and mash it into half an avocado, banana or some cooked potato. Repeat this three times daily until you feel better.”

I plant garlic (and all of my veggies, flowers and herbs) according to the principles of BIODYNAMICS. Biodynamics is a spiritual-ethical-ecological approach to agriculture, food production and nutrition. It was first developed in the early 1920’s based on the spiritual insights and practical suggestions of the Austrian writer, educator and social activist Dr. Rudolf Steiner. Think of biodynamics as a way of honoring and collaborating with the earth. It represents scale in thinking – a view of all life as energy or consciousness. When we consider what is taking place energetically in the cosmos, we can begin to see how all life invisible forces both in the cosmos and in the earth; that is, all life is affected by Astronomical Rhythms, Seasons & Elements.

Garlic scapes (the stem part of the garlic...the bulbs that we are used to eating are underground) in their prime, July 2017

Garlic scapes (the stem part of the garlic...the bulbs that we are used to eating are underground) in their prime, July 2017

I love using the Stella Natura biodynamic calendar, even though it makes my brain feel really small each time I read it. I apply these principles whether I’m planting or harvesting from my kitchen/medicinal herb garden, planting seeds that are favorable with the astronomical rhythms, making compost tea for the plants and the soil, or preparing tinctures that restore and harmonize the vital forces of all living things.

The biodynamic calendar categorizes plants into 4 groups: plants that we grow for their ROOTS (carrots, beets, sweet potatoes), plants that we grow for their LEAVES (lettuce, spinach, cabbage), plants we grow for their FRUIT (peas, tomatoes, raspberries, apples), and plants we grow for their FLOWERS (echinacea, borage, cauliflower, broccoli). The calendar is essentially a schedule - over the course of any nine days, there are specific times to work with each of these 4 groups.

Fall is a great time of year to plant root veggies and garlic.
The best days to plant ROOTS (garlic!!) in 2017 are:

October 28
November 6, 14, 15 or 24
December 3, 11, 12 or 13

Garlic grows in the most amazing and unexpected way. The bulbs that we are familiar with seeing and eating grow underground, while the scapes of the garlic grow tall (nearly as tall as me!) with silly, long beaks, reminiscent of a children's book character. If you plant your garlic on one of the root days this fall, you can expect to see fully grown garlic in your garden in July 2018.

To harvest, gently unearth the bulb from the soil and be sure to dry fully before using. Garlic adds wonderful flavor to almost any dish, and can also be used raw in pesto, or for medicinal purposes. ENJOY!

RESOURCES for More Information on Biodynamics

Stella Natura - Biodynamic Calendar
A Way to Garden - Planting by the Cosmic Calendar
Oregon's Wild Harvest - What is Biodynamic Farming?
Today Show Video - Biodynamic goes further than Organic

Garden garlic

Garden garlic