Garlic by Sue Perryman

Garlic - Allium sativum

This month I thought I would look at Garlic, it is easy to grow and one of the most useful additions to your garden being used in food, medicine and magic. As one of the oldest plants known to man, there is also a lot of folklore and myth surrounding it.

Garlic is a hardy perennial plant grown as an annual, it can grow to between 40-60 cms and is really easy to grow. Plant individual cloves pointed ends up in the ground about 15 cms apart and 5cms deep. Plant in Autumn for a late Summer harvest or early Spring for a late Autumn harvest. They are ready to pick after the blooms die back and the leaves fall over.

A single clove of garlic planted beside a rose bush is said to keep greenfly away.

It is believed that garlic is native to Siberia but spread to other parts of the world over 5000 years ago. The common word 'garlic' is reputedly from the Anglo-Saxon 'leac' meaning pot herb and 'gar' meaning spear or lance, perhaps referring to the shape of the leaves.

Garlic is sacred to Hecate and can be left at a crossroads as an offering to her.

In Greek myth, Odysseus used Moly, a wild garlic, as a charm to stop the sorceress Circe from turning him into a pig. Garlic was also used by ancient Greek athletes at the Olympic games to enhance their performance.

Ancient Egyptians used garlic medicinally, believing that it promoted good health and strength. Images of garlic have been found in Egyptian tombs depicted as offerings to the Gods and the slaves constructing the pyramid Cheops were given garlic cloves daily to sustain their strength.

It is believed that the Romans introduced garlic to Britain. Roman soldiers would eat a clove of garlic before going into battle for strength and courage.

Garlic has been used medicinally for centuries. The ancient people must have been on to something as modern science has proved it has many beneficial medical properties.

Normal amounts of garlic in food is usually safe for most people (unless you are allergic to it as one of my friends is). If you want to take it medicinally though please consult a medical practitioner first, particularly if you are on any other medication.

I'm not going to look into the medicinal properties of garlic here, but I do find some of the old remedies interesting including this old folk remedy in 'Discovering the Folklore of Plants' by Margaret Baker which