In the Garden | How to grow great garlic

A member of the lily family and related to onions and leeks, garlic is known to have been grown since 3200BC.

Inscriptions of the bulb found in the pyramids indicate that it was not only an important foodstuff but also had ceremonial significance.

USEFUL: You can eat it (of course) but the Greeks and Romans also used garlic for its therapeutic qualities - one Roman naturalist prescribed garlic for more than 60 separate ailments.

USEFUL: You can eat it (of course) but the Greeks and Romans also used garlic for its therapeutic qualities - one Roman naturalist prescribed garlic for more than 60 separate ailments.

The Greeks and Romans also used garlic for its therapeutic qualities - one Roman naturalist prescribed garlic for more than sixty separate ailments.

Contemporary research shows that the common denominator in all the potential cures was the bulbs’ sulphur content, which is not only responsible for the strong odour but its ability to reduce bacteria and lower the blood cholesterol.

“Garlic sprays will deter a number of insect pests.”

In the home vege garden, sometime around Anzac Day is a planting memory jogger, with harvest from Melbourne Cup time into midsummer.

Buy a bulb of organic garlic and carefully divide it into separate cloves.

Plant into a light but rich, well drained soil with a pH of around 6.5, pointy end up, at a depth of 5cm with 15-20cm between each plant.

The bulbs will be ready to harvest once the leafy green tops have turned yellow.

Withold any watering for a week or so before lifting and dry off in a warm airy place.

Once dry, shake off the soil and store in net bags or plait the stems in the French manner to use as a decorative hanging in the kitchen.

Whether you like or loathe its culinary use, garlic is a useful bulb to have on hand.

Gardeners who prefer not to use chemical sprays often grow a garlic patch for its insecticidal properties.

Organic growers have long planted garlic alongside the roses to reduce the incidence of aphid attack; and under apple trees to deter the codling moth.

Although you will have to repeat their use, garlic sprays will deter a number of insect pests. You can make your own from 100g of finely chopped garlic cloves, mixed with 40ml of liquid paraffin or mineral oil, together with 25gr of soap flakes (not detergent) and steep for 48 hours. Add 500mls water, filter into a clean jar and dilute at 25mls to 1 litre of water. Useful for aphids, snails, caterpillars and any soft bodied insects.

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