San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Garlic: smelly, delicious and good for your health

Ed Bernhardt

Ed Bernhardt

Gardeners often ask about how to grow garlic in the tropics, and I warn them that it’s not a simple undertaking. Because garlic is an exotic species introduced to the New World tropics in colonial days, it is not well adapted to our hot and humid conditions. It’s also a biennial plant with a long growth cycle. 

Gardeners can work around this, however, by planting garlic in pots around the home in sunny areas on porches or in greenhouse conditions. When you can control the amount of water, so the soil can dry out between waterings, garlic will flourish.

Use a 12-inch pot or recycled container filled with strained organic compost fertilizer. Between 3 and 6 cloves of garlic can be planted superficially in a 6-inch circle with the tips pointing upward. Try to plant a new container each month, so you’ll have a continuing supply of fresh garlic greens and garlic bulbs. Keep your pots on stands or a table to keep the bugs away. As the garlic grows, select the tender green leaves from some of the garlic plants and leave others to mature into bulbs. It takes six or more pots to have a steady supply of garlic for the home. The plants can be sprayed with soluble organic fertilizers and compost tea to feed the roots. Prevent leaf diseases by including citrus seed oil extract or trichoderma inoculants.

The green leaves of garlic are a nutritious addition to salads and dressings, and Garlic has been used for centuries as food and medicine. Using fresh garlic in your diet is a good preventative health practice, since garlic is a strong antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal agent, which works to prevent unwanted microbes from living in your intestines or cells. Garlic also helps to prevent worms and other parasites from getting established in your digestive tract. Recent research has shown garlic to be an effective agent against viral and bacterial infections in the body. The major ingredient, allyl, acts as a natural antibiotic when used in large doses. Garlic has also proven effective in reducing high blood pressure and cholesterol. Use garlic pills for acute or chronic illnesses. Use garlic cloves and greens daily in salads as a preventative measure for protecting your health. 

Garlic can be prepared in several ways for healing purposes. For example, a thin slice of a raw garlic clove can be taped on to warts or boils to treat them. Apply a fresh piece of garlic in the morning and evening. The treatment usually takes three days to one week for results. Garlic capsules are also useful in treating infections, circulatory problems and digestive problems, particularly parasites. Take two capsules every two hours during the day.

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