The Parson's Archive arlic information page was awarded a Times Pick by the Los Angeles Times on July 3, 1996.
1. Q. When should garlic be planted?

A. Garlic is best planted in the fall and will be ready to harvest the following spring.

2. Q. Is garlic planted by using seed?

A. Most garlic is planted from planting vegetative plant parts called cloves.

3. Q. How will I know when garlic is ready to harvest?

A. Garlic is mature and ready to harvest when the flower cluster begins to deteriorate and the plant begins to turn yellow.

4. Q. After harvest, my garlic quite often deteriorates before I can use it. How can I prevent this?

A. Dry garlic thoroughly after it is harvested and hang it up in a well ventilated area to prevent rot. Do not expose it to extreme high or low temperatures after harvest. Store garlic at room temperature, around 75 degrees F.

5. Q. What are garlic onions?

A. When gardeners plant garlic cloves which the following year produce a single-clove plant, the single clove which resembles an onion but tastes like garlic, is often referred to as a garlic onion. This phenomenon results from planting an immature garlic clove. If the garlic onion is planted the following fall, it will produce a normal multi-cloved garlic.

6. Q. Last spring, when I harvested my garlic, I discovered small, very hard structures on the base of the normal cloves. Some of these remained in the soil when I pulled the garlic. Will these things produce garlic?

A. The structure, which you describe, will produce garlic cloves, but the process will take two years. If you plant these now, a normal looking garlic plant will be produced, but the bulb harvested next spring will not be segmented into cloves as regular garlic is. Because of this, many gardeners think that they have produced an onion from a garlic section. If this onion-like garlic is planted the next October, it will form a regular segmented garlic the following spring. The "volunteer" garlic, which comes up in everyone's garden after harvest has occurred, is a result of these "satellites."

7. Q. If an onion flowers, it will not store properly and should be eaten immediately. Is this true for garlic, too?

A. No. Garlic will flower every year but does not produce a viable seed. Some say that if the flower is removed as soon as the bud appears, the cloves will be larger. The cavity which rots in an onion if a flower is produced is also formed in the garlic, but the cloves actually surround the cavity and are not affected. For good quality cloves, dry garlic thoroughly after it is harvested and hang it up in a well-ventilated area to prevent rot. Do not expose it to extreme high or low temperatures after harvest. Store garlic at room temperature, around 75 degrees F.

8. Q. I'm looking for some of the history of garlic, specifically when people started cooking or roasting it - when and why, etc.

A: I couldn't find exactly when people started cooking with garlic but I did find that the culture of garlic, like that of onion, dates back to time immemorial. Vavilov gives middle Asia as the primary center of origin and the Mediterranean region as the secondary center. From these center the culture of the plant has become worldwide. According to Herodotus, the ancient Egyptians made great use of it. Archaeologist have not found proof in the monuments, but this may be because the plant was considered unclean by priests. It has many different names in Western Asia and Europe which in itself indicates long cultivation. It was ranked by the Egyptians among gods in taking an oath, according to Pliny. The want of garlic was lamented to Moses by the Israelites in the wilderness. The Romans are said to have dislike it on account of the strong scent but fed it to their laborers to strengthen them and to their soldiers to excite courage. It was in use in England prior to 1548. Garlic is said to have been introduced in China 140-86 B.C. The first mention of garlic in America is by Peter Martyr, who states that Cortez fed on it it Mexico. It was cultivated by the Choctaw Indians in gardens before 1775 and is mentioned among garden esculents by American writers on gardening in 1806 and since.

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