I never thought I would catch the gardening bug.
My Dad and older brother are keen gardeners however I was never bothered with it. I just happily accepted their generous offers of pumpkins, lemons, plums etc. when time came to harvest.
Now I am a home owner and the garden is calling my name.
Being a student at the Naturopathic College of NZ, there are no surprises that what I want from a garden is a herbal medicine garden. I pretty much envision a medicine cabinet in the back yard! It is also known as a healing herb garden.
“Healing Herbs Garden” contains things such as:
- Garlic – Forget an apple a day, garlic has been used for it’s medicinal properties for thousands of years and by many different cultures.
Garlic is a triple power superstar. Just like tumeric, it is anti viral, anti fungal and anti bacterial. There is some evidence to show that garlic can fight against bacteria which is antibiotic resistant(!!!) It fights yeast infections such as candida and provides relief from colds and the flu.
Garlic also has vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin C, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin A. It’s minerals are Copper, Iron, Calcium, Selenium and Manganese.
In our home, we use a clove of garlic in the ear for ear infections, or raw chopped up in water as a shot when we are feeling ill. We eat garlic daily with dinner (sometimes lunch and breakfast).
RECIPE: A breakfast garlic dish I was taught was to make stuffed portabello mushrooms by removing the stalk, making a mix of feta and garlic to pop in the middle, frying the mushroom and adding avocado, bacon, ciabatta bread to serve. A little thyme also works well here.
- Lavender – Aromatherapy as a calming oil, great to induce calm and sleep/fights insomnia, purfume, skin healer, air freshener, helps sooth bug bites.
- Peppermint – Upset tummy, abdominal pain, bloating, irritable bowel
- Chamomile – Can be crushed and made into a tea plus has cute wee flowers which strongly resemble Daisy’s! Good for indigestion, anxiety, burns, anti fungal, skin infections, can be used to help induce sleep
- Parsley – Helps with bad breath, remedy for bloating and gas, boosts energy
- Sage – I dry and burn sage to help with good vibes. Other uses are that it sooths mouth, throat and gum infections, antibacterial, astringent.
- Rosemary – Improves mood, sweetens breath, boosts memory and concentration, promotes healing
- Tumeric – Antiseptic, antibacterial, anti inflammatory
Garlic has delicious culinary properties too (which is the whole point, right?). It adds an incredible flavour to many dishes, it is a core ingredient in many cultures and spices up common dishes such as mashed potatoes.
Growing garlic is all about the timing.
On the shortest day of the year it is the Winter Solstice, in New Zealand this day is June 21st, and this is the best day to plant garlic. Why? Because Garlic establishes it’s root system over winter then shoots it’s tops out into spring. On the Summer Solstice, 6 months later, it is ready to harvest. Garlic grows itself from itself so if you have some in the pantry then you are ready to plant! Doesn’t growing garlic make you feel a little more tied to the planet and its seasons, it’s rotations? (No? Just me and my nerdy self overthinking about how I don’t even notice seasons on a deeper level than ‘Oh it’s cold’ ‘hey it’s hot’ so maybe this gardening with the seasons bizz might be good for me and the kids. Ok! Moving along!!!)
Fertilizing the garden for garlic planting
A growing plant gets it’s nutrition from the soil. If a plant has adequate nutrition it will thrive (much like any other living creature!) A little blood and bone (if not vegetarian) and compost turned into the soil will suffice otherwise a good old manure will feed nutrtients and beneficial micro organisms into the soil. Add blood and bone to the surface again every month.
Step by step:
- Fertilize the soil
- Plant on winter solstice (June 21st in NZ)
- Plant one clove in a hole about a thumb or finger deep. Plant each clove about one hand (your hand) away from each other so they don’t have to compete for nutrition.
(Cloves should be pointed tip facing up and flat side down).
- Add blood and bone every month, if desired
- Watch for tips to shoot out of the ground. These tips will grow 9 leaves.
- When the leaves start to turn yellow in patches, the garlic is ready to harvest. Generally look for 4-5 leaves to be yellow and the plant may even fall over. This means it is ready to harvest.
- Hang to dry
Top Tips for growing garlic
- Each individual clove can produce a whole bulb. So plant it and it grows itself! Money saved, you do not need to buy a plant or seedling. Just grab one from your pantry.
- Look for the best, biggest cloves which show no sign of rotting or discoloration etc.
- Growing garlic is all about the timing because the root system has to establish in the cooler months, then shoot out and mature in the warmer months
- Garlic can be grown in pots
- The flat part which faces downward will shoot out roots all winter long to establish itself and the tip will shoot out a stalk, visible above the ground.
- In NZ the best day to harvest Garlic is about December 21st or 22nd.