Garlic, The Vegetable That Is More Than Just Vampire Repellant

We all know that garlic is to DIE for yummy goodness on bread and in butter, sauces, rubs, etc… forever. Because the list of culinary possibilities is endless. Most of us know that it is the food of choice when you want to make yourself unappealing to vampires. In fact, its smell makes it useful for fending off unwanted would-be suitors and vampires alike. Garlic is essential for seasoning, natural remedies, and protection. Lets dig in and learn about this versatile and indispensable vegetable.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. Any information found on thegigglinggardengnome.com is intended for informational and educational purposes only and not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you have a medical condition or are seeking medical advice, please speak to your doctor or other medical professional.

Plant info

Scientific name: Allium sativum 

Family: Alliaceae 

Active compound: Allicin

Garlic is a hardy bulb perennial that is typically grown as an annual. They grow up to 24 inches tall and are harvested both for their leaves and their bulbs. The leaves are deep green and lance shaped. The bulbs are big clusters of smaller individual cloves. Each clove is encased in a thin, papery skin.

Fun fact: even though garlic is considered to be a spice or herb, it is actually classified as a root vegetable! 

Lore

Garlic Photo by cottonbro studio: https://www.pexels.com/photo/garlic-and-pomegranate-near-the-lit-candles-7097778/

Garlic most likely originated in central Asia thousands of years ago. There is evidence that humans have eaten and used it all over the ancient world. It seemed to spread in popularity from China through Egypt and India until it got to where it is now, being grown and enjoyed almost everywhere. 

Garlic has been used medicinally, ritualistically, as well as culinarily. Cloves of it have been found in Egyptian tombs as well as palaces and other places where rituals were performed. In fact, it was the offering of choice for the goddess Hecate in ancient Greece.  

People have long thought that garlic was a protective plant. They believed that it would ward off any negative energies. Negative energies could mean anything from illness and disease to sketchy people, bad luck, or even supernatural entities. They wore it around their neck to protect their person and hung it over their doors and windows to protect their dwellings.

Medicinal uses

As a healing plant, it was used for an incredibly wide variety of ailments. Not all of the medicinal uses have been proven to be effective by modern science. Different cultures used it to help with:

  • Digestive disorders
  • Respiratory illnesses
  • Insect bites
  • Cardiovascular disorders
  • Cancer

While it has not been definitively proven that garlic cures any medical condition, there are some studies that show it can be useful for more prophylactic applications. It HAS been proven to have antimicrobial and antioxidant as well as blood thinning properties. Because of those properties, garlic has shown some effect on cardiovascular conditions (especially those associated with blood pressure) and bacterial infections. While it will not cure cancer, it could potentially play a role in helping to prevent it. 

Warning! As stated above, garlic has been proven to have blood thinning properties. If you are on any medications or have a medical condition that thins your blood, garlic supplements or extracts can be extremely dangerous and you should contact your physician before use.

Culinary uses

Garlic Photo by Pixabay: https://www.pexels.com/photo/food-ingredients-recipe-cook-33249/

When it comes to seasoning food, garlic is KING. As an aromatic, it brings both flavor and aroma to any dish. It goes great on absolutely everything, in my opinion. I tend to double or triple the amount called for in any recipe. Just like with vanilla extract and chocolate chips/syrup/powder, you can’t let recipes dictate how much you need. You measure it with your heart and whispers from your ancestors. Anyone who says otherwise may be a negative supernatural entity and should be banished from your kitchen immediately.

Growing information

Garlic is typically propagated from the cloves rather than sexual reproduction. This means it isn’t really ever grown from seeds. Plant cloves in the fall in full sun and well drained, rich soil. They should be planted about an inch deep with the pointy end on top. Space them about 8 inches apart and keep them well watered.

In early summer, harvest when most of the leaves have turned brown. Use a hand fork to gently pull them out of the soil. Lay them out to dry for a few weeks in a warm, dry place. Once they are fully cured, if they are softneck, you can braid the leaves together so they can be hung up for storage or jealous neighbor banishing. Whatever you’re into.

Garlic Photo by LoboStudio Hamburg on Unsplash

Conclusion

Garlic has been used by humans for thousands of years. It has brought flavor to our foods, given us energetic protection from evil, and helped us to prevent sickness. It is a pretty low maintenance plant with a lot of benefits for a gardener.

Resources

Check out these sources to learn more about how versatile this root vegetable is!

  • Bayan L, Koulivand PH, Gorji A. Garlic: a review of potential therapeutic effects. Avicenna J Phytomed. 2014 Jan;4(1):1-14. PMID: 25050296; PMCID: PMC4103721.
  • National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. “Garlic”. NIH. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/garlic.
  • Simon, Philipp W. “The origins and distribution of garlic: How many garlics are there?” USDA Agricultural Research Service, https://www.ars.usda.gov/midwest-area/madison-wi/vegetable-crops-research/docs/simon-garlic-origins/.
  • McVicar, Jekka. The Complete Herb Book. Introduction by Penelope Hobhouse, Firefly Books, 2007, P 24-25.
  • Cunningham, Scott. Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, Llewellyn Publications, 1985, 2000. P 122-123.
  • Conway, DJ.  Magical Folkhealing Herbs, Oils, and Recipes for Health, Healing, and Magic, Llewellyn Publications, 2019. P 111-112.
  • Mindrell, Earl. Herb Bible. Simon & Schuster, 1992, P 97-100.

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