Here’s another healthy herb for the Mediterranean potted kitchen garden I highlighted in my last article (TT, Feb. 17). Garlic, Allium sativum, is another plant that was brought to this continent by the early colonists, along with rosemary, basil, oregano and thyme. A member of the onion family, garlic has been used for centuries as food and medicine.
Fresh garlic in the diet has been shown to reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol, fight bacterial, viral and fungal infections, prevent parasites, and aid in the treatment of asthma, arthritis, cancer, colds, flu, insomnia, liver problems, sinusitis, ulcers and yeast infections.
In Costa Rica, garlic has been grown commercially in the intermediate regions; however, much of the garlic now found in markets is imported.
Gardeners have found that growing garlic organically is difficult, but you can succeed in growing garlic in containers around the house, in spots where they receive full sun and no rain. You can use 10- to 12-inch garden pots or recycled plastic containers with holes in the bottom. Planter boxes are also good for this purpose. A 5-centimeter layer of gravel is placed on the bottom and the rest is filled with a screened potting mix of compost and loam soil. Plant four to five garlic cloves, with the pointed end up, at the soil’s surface. Be sure to water them once a week.
Growing garlic is easier when you can control watering, since excessive rain can cause the bulbs to rot in the soil. So be careful not to overwater, and don’t locate your potted plants in shady, damp areas.
Compost tea and seaweed extract help increase the growth and vigor of garlic plants, while additions of efficient microorganisms, or EM, and products with citrus seed oil extract help prevent bacterial and fungal infections. Both these treatments are good preventive measures for all your garden plants.
You’ll find that having several pots planted with garlic can be very handy for picking young garlic leaves for your salads. These leaves provide a mild garlic taste and the benefits of chlorophyll too. If you prefer to grow bulbs, don’t pick the leaves so the garlic bulbs can mature.
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