Garlic is from the onion family and has several different varieties. Australian-grown garlic tends to be the Italian type, which has pinkish skin and smallish cloves.
Garlic contains a variety of natural antioxidants that are known to be beneficial in preventing cancer of the stomach and colon, as well as colds and flu. Garlic also has antimicrobial properties so can be used for bacterial and fungal infections.
It is also rich in protein, vitamins A, B and C, and essential minerals including iron, calcium and selenium which is a powerful antioxidant.
When choosing garlic look for firm, tight, heavy, dry bulbs.
As garlic ages, it will begin to produce green sprouts in the center of each clove. These infant green sprouts can be bitter, so discard them before use.
To release the flavour of garlic it is best crushed and left to rest for 10 minutes before cooking.
Garlic can be stored for up to nine months.
Growing garlic at home
Garlic takes nine months to develop into maturity once it has been planted. It also requires a moist, free-draining soil and lots of sunshine and is best planted in March/April.
To grow garlic at home, follow these handy tips:
1. Prepare your soil with some good quality organic compost.
2. Push your clove into the ground leaving the pointy tip protruding. Leave about a hand space distance between each clove planted.
3. Once in the ground cover with some straw mulch hay to suppress weeds and aid the soil.
4. In about two to three weeks you will notice green shoots spearing up through you mulch. You can now apply a nitrogen fertiliser like fish and kelp or blood and bone.
5. When you notice the flower bud forming, snap this off.
6. When you see the leaves starting to decline, stop watering.
7. Around December gently dig your plants up, strip back the outer leaves and tie into a bundle and hang somewhere dark and breezy to dry for three to four weeks.
Super Natural Organics
In episode five of Matthew Hayden’s Home Ground Matt visits Wendy Robertson and Peter Doff, owners of garlic farm Super Natural Organics. Their small acreage farm is located in the foothills of the Cootharaba Range, about 30 minutes north of Noosa, on the Sunshine Coast.
Here in this sub-tropical, tranquil corner of the planet they are realising their dream of providing good quality organic produce in a beneficial and sustainable way for the local community and to the benefit of the planet as a whole.
Both Wendy and Peter are passionate about providing good quality, healthy food that doesn't denigrate the earth, but also nurtures and heals.
They gained organic certification with Australian Certified Organics (www.aco.com.au) in 2004 using the standards set out by the Biological Farmers of Australia.
The standards for organic farming are strict, clear and precise. All manures MUST first be fully composted before application. Seeds must come from an organic source, be unadulterated and not immersed in any pesticides, fungicides or growth hormones.
By using large quantities of mulch hay they manage to suppress weeds, reduce water consumption, avoid soil erosion and nutrient leaching and put back into the soil a carbon rich source of food. That’s a recipe for happy, healthy, vibrant plants that fend off pests and diseases all on their own!
For further information on SNOG Garlic visit www.snog.com.au.