A PHOTO IN THE SNOW TO SHOW HOW GARLIC GOT ITS NAME – 5th Feb 2013

DSC04836Garlic cloves were planted late October as usual in ‘Trevor’s Kitchen Garden’ (See the book pp. 260 -262, www.orpenpress.com). They are now growing well,  although barely above the soil, (or snow) surface at this stage. This picture taken yesterday morning shows the young organic  Vallelado variety garlic plants looking like small spears poking through the snow. The name ‘garlic‘ is derived from the Old English word ‘garleac’ meaning ‘spear leek’. It was first recorded as a home grown food in Siberia and the Chinese were raving about it in their records 5,000 years ago. Used as an antiseptic down the years, the Ancient Romans believed a feed of garlic cloves gave their soldiers stamina. The Vikings were also believed to chew it too before attacking. Could this be the earliest records of ‘chemical warfare’?

Enough of the battlefields, back to the kitchen garden! Unless the garlic cloves get a few days of below zero weather, they do not grow well and the bulbs do not fully form. This is the main reason I like to sow the cloves in late autumn or early winter. To avoid importing disease in to the garden, buy cloves from a garden centre. I buy my organic cloves by  mail order from www.fruithillfarm.com  in Bantry, Co. Cork. Later on in the summer ripening garlic appreciates a bit of sunshine and warmth, like most of us. However, garlic’s Siberian origins are easy to imagine after this fall of snow in the attached photograph.

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