I love and at the same time I also hate this time of the year. It is wet (very wet at the moment), windy and dull. This is the perfect recipe for keeping me inside. I am glad I have a lot of indoor hobbies so I never get bored. However, this also means my Patch will be in a mess as I hardy attend to it apart from taking whatever I need for the day.
September is still a very productive time in the Patch. I have endless supplies of Runner Beans, Tomatoes, Marrows and Sweetcorn. I have also been having some Kale, I try not to have too much as I know this will be my staple vegetable for the rest of this year.
As the Summer season is coming to an end (or may have already ended!) I am busy planting some winter vegetables like Kale (lots of different kind of Kale), more spinach and Purple Sprouting Broccoli. One very important vegetable has always been overlooked – garlic! I love garlic. It is such a yummy cooking ingredient let alone the numerous benefits for our gut and health. I know garlic has a bad rep as it gives us that breath, but I just cannot resist any dish which has garlic in it. I love making garlic bread at home so this little bulb is very valuable at my kitchen and it probably is the only one thing I will not run out of in my kitchen.
I grew garlic for the very first time last Autumn and I was surprised how easy it was. I received a bundle of garlic in early Summer this year and I still have quite a few in my Kitchen basket despite my excessive use of them. I know we always say there is nothing better than home grown tomatoes, cucumbers, runner beans and blah blah blah, but truly, there is nothing like home grown garlic. The garlic is much fresher and juicier than those you get from the store. I love using them, they are tender and less pungent.
To simplify things, there are two types of garlic you can grow at home: hardneck and softneck.
This type of garlic produces a flower stem which can be used in salads and stir fries. Hardneck varieties are ideal if you fancy growing garlic flower for dishes but as a bonus, you can harvest the bulb later. Although hard neck Garlic does not store as well as soft neck varieties, it gives different tastes and qualities compared to soft neck. Here are a couple of common varieties available in most online vegetable seeds store:
- Elephant Garlic
- Purple Wight
Softneck garlic does not produce a flower stem, but it will store much better and longer than the hardneck varieties so it is perfect if you are growing for Winter use. Here are a couple for references:
As an experiment, I only grew Elephant Garlic last Autumn as I was not sure whether I would be successful. However, I am hoping to plant a couple of different kinds and see which one I love the best and hopefully I will be able to grow enough for a year round supply.
One particular garlic I love but does not come round often is the single clove garlic (獨子蒜), I have been on and off looking online for such bulbs for planting. A lot of people often get this confused with elephant garlic, but it is not the same. I love the freshness of this kind of garlic. I have been told it originated from China, may be that is why I love it. It has recently became very popular in the Asian diet. I saw online people using single clove garlic making garlic Vinegar or slow roast garlic for health benefits, I am not brave enough to try any of these yet. If you have, I would love to hear from you!
The reason why we have ‘garlic breath’ after eating garlic is because our bodies produce a number of sulphurs containing gases and most of these gases are metabolised by the body except for allyl methyl sulphide (AMS). Our liver and intestines cannot metabolise AMS so it ends up finding its way out of our body in our breath. There are many tips on how to avoid Garlic Breath and this is by far my favourite one:
The more you eat, the better your body will be at metabolising it! Remember to spread the word and make sure everyone around you eats more Garlic,they will be less likely to notice your Garlicky breath!