Garlic (Allium sativum) is similar to onion, except the bulb, rather than being one large bulb, is made of several cloves. It has long slender leaves that emerge directly from the ground and a striking flower head.
Other Names Stinking Rose, Ajo, Poor Man’s Treacle, Stinkweed
History and Folklore
Garlic has been part of horticulture for at least 5000 years and was grown by the ancient Egyptians, Indians, Chinese and Babylonians.
Its image has been found in Egyptian tombs depicted as an offering to the Gods. The pyramid builders of ancient Egypt were paid partially in garlic and Egyptians swore oaths on cloves of garlic.
Roman soldiers ate garlic before battle for strength and bravery.
It was used to maintain health during the plague, as well as to ward off evil spirits, vampires, the evil eye and various spells and hexes.
It was first brought to the Americas on Columbus’s second voyage.
An Islamic legend claims that when Satan left the Garden of Eden, garlic and onions grew from his footprints.
Propagate from cloves. Garlic needs a cold period to trigger growth, so your cloves should be planted in the late fall. Plant the cloves with the pointed side up. Do not separate cloves from the bulb until just before you are ready to plant them, or they may dry out.
The young plants look like newly sprouted grass with a lovely garlic smell. These are great on potatoes and in salads. Store in a cool, dark and dry place.
Garlic prefers loose, rich, well-drained soil.
Harvesting & Storage
Harvest garlic by pulling up bulbs in late June or July, or when the lower 1/3 of the leaves start to yellow and the bulbs have segmented into cloves. Stop watering about two weeks before harvesting.
Lay out the bulbs in a well-ventilated area with high temperature and low humidity for two days, then braid the tops together and hang for at least two weeks.
Garlic may be pureed or minced in olive oil and stored in the freezer.
Garlic is masculine in nature and associated with the planet Mars, the element fire and the sign Aries. It is sacred to Hecate and is a suitable offering to her left at a crossroads.
A spell from the American West to send away unwanted lover: Place a clove of garlic intersected with two crossed pins where he is sure to walk. When he walks over it, he will lose interest.
A potion with the opposite effect was made of a strand of the target’s hair, threads from his or her clothing, alcohol and garlic. Somehow you had to make the target ingest this, and then he or she would fall madly in love with you.
Garlic cloves can also be used, with other things, to stuff poppets intended for negative magic.
Garlic braids hung over the door to repel thieves and envious people as well as bring good luck. Change the braid every year. Hanging garlic over a bedroom door will draw lovers into it.
Garlic is said to have aphrodisiac powers when eaten.
Wiping a knife with garlic juice empowers it against negative energies.
A clove of garlic can be added to any mojo bag to strengthen its energy.
Garlic is used for exorcism, spell-breaking, invoking passion, protection and strength.
Also used to protect against psychic and physical vampirism.
Garlic flowers dry well and last a long time in flower arrangements.
Growing garlic near other plants will help protect them from pests.
Rub cloves of garlic on your fingernails and let it sit for a bit to strengthen them.
The healing properties of garlic are most potent when it is crushed and consumed raw. Enjoy garlic in freshly made dips, spreads and salads for most satisfying results.
Garlic has antibiotic properties, but it should not be used directly on wounds or in poultices or salves because it can irritate the skin and may inhibit blood clotting.
Regular consumption of garlic may help lower HDL cholesterol and raise LDL cholesterol.
It has also been indicated in cancer studies.
To enhance garlic’s natural healing properties, let it sit for 20 minutes or so after preparation (chopping, crushing, etc.) before cooking. This allows certain chemical reactions to take place that activate its active constituents.
Garlic may inhibit the formation of blood clots. Use caution if you are taking blood thinners or
use aspirin regularly.
Do not give garlic to pets as it can destroy red blood cells causing possibly fatal anemia. (Please don’t panic if you dropped some garlic off the cutting board and your dog snapped it up, these problems tend to occur with regular consumption rather than the occasional nip.)
Breastfeeding mothers who eat lots of garlic have occasionally found that their babies became more colicky or refused to nurse until they stop eating garlic!
Large amounts of garlic may cause stomach upset.
Garlic is an indispensable seasoning for many dishes. It blends well with tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini and is great tossed into pasta with butter and Parmesan cheese.
Reduce garlic breath by chewing parsley or fenugreek or fennel seeds after your meal.