The Most Powerful Herb to Preserve and How I Failed This Year
What is probably the most powerfully healing herb around might just be garlic. Scientists have studied its antibacterial abilities and found it has many, many health-promoting abilities. It has been lauded as beneficial for arthritis, asthma, diabetes, athlete’s foot, colds, influenza, intestinal worms, ulcers, bronchitis, skin infections and much more. It helps the body combat inflammation, something I think is a key to how diseases get a foothold in our bodies in many ways.
So, after learning all this, I was especially interested in finding out how to grow my own patch last year. It is to be planted in the Fall, so I got my bulbs and made a bed, with lots of amended soil. All summer it grew, and I was so pleased. But the end of September, as I dug them up, I was so disappointed. I had failed! The bulbs were tiny. What had happened? I was imagining big round bulbs to dig up and get to preserving. These were so tiny they weren’t much bigger than the little bulb I had planted last fall. Thinking on it, I assume that it had to do with our drought this summer. We were under a moderate drought, and though I was pretty diligent at watering my little garden, clearly, I hadn’t watered enough.
I was pretty glum. What to do? Should I give up? Then I came across an article on Elephant Garlic! A lightbulb went off. These things grow huge. And the best part is that they are easier to grow. You can leave them in the ground without worrying about rot with regular garlic. The bulbs on the flowering head can also be planted and harvest can come from those the second year. The flavor is said to be milder than garlic but can be eaten just the same by eating raw in salads, roasted or sauteed. It actually is more like a leek than garlic, and yet, it has been chemically shown to contain the all-important allicin and the chemical found in leeks and onions which isn’t found in garlic. It packs a two-part punch. It has more calcium and phosphorus good for bone health than garlic, the higher amount of allicin which is the part that is antibacterial and antiviral, is rich in calcium, vitamins and fiber so good for the immune system and digestion. Its antibacterial qualities are so good that it has proven to kill E. coli.
Maybe my failure is really a blessing in disguise? I quickly ordered some Elephant Garlic bulbs, and they came in two days. Though I was a bit late planting it, we’ve had a warm snap, so I think I have gotten them in time. I will continue to study how to grow garlic successfully so that I will be able to make my harvest a success this coming year.
And what will I do with it? I will mince some up, enough for a few months at a time, and cover it with apple cider (or a good wine) vinegar. In a closed jar, I can keep it in my refrigerator until it is time to make a fresh batch. Whenever I need garlic for a recipe, I dip out the amount needed. The left-over flavored vinegar can be made into delicious dressing or added to recipes as needed. And that is how I will keep my most powerful Herb.