There are many theories as to why garlic is considered an effective vampire deterrent: 1) Vampires are blood suckers like mosquitoes and mosquitoes are repelled by garlic. 2) Garlic is an anti-bacterial agent that poisons the blood of those who eat it. 3) Garlic is known as the stinking rose in some circles. Vampires hate the smell. 4) It can burn your skin if you are a vampire (also, if you are not and are sensitive). 5) If you kill a vampire, be sure to stuff its mouth and eyes with garlic to keep it from coming back.
2. Mosquito repellent.
Does garlic really keep mosquitoes at bay? Apparently it works on some mosquitoes but not all. There are extra strong commercial concoctions you can use to spray in the vicinity of your patio – if you can take the smell.
Never store garlic in oil at room temperature as it is a breeding ground for botulism (Clostridium botulinum) because of its sulfuric nature. You can store it in the refrigerator, but use it within a week. Too much garlic should also be avoided if you are being treated for HIV/AIDS or if you are taking blood thinners such as warfarin. Do not feed it to your dog. Garlic is toxic to dogs in large amounts.
4. Garlic upsides.
In spite of all the warnings, garlic is actually very useful and can be very beneficial to your health – just don’t overdo it. It reduces blood pressure, lowers LDL (the bad cholesterol) but has no impact on HDL (the good one). It is filled with antioxidants and has been linked to positive effects on Alzheimer’s. It will detoxify heavy metals from your body, is good for bone health and is said to improve athletic performance.
In most of Canada, garlic is planted in fall for two reasons: first, it needs a chilling period; and second, it takes nine months to mature. Plant it in August or September depending on the seasonal conditions – just don’t plant it so early that it begins sprouting. Like tulips, you want garlic to put out roots but not to send up shoots before the ground freezes. Mulch with some straw or peat moss after freeze up. Plant in well-composted soil and keep the garlic patch weed-free. It resents competition.
6. Pointy side up.
You need to separate the cloves from the bulb (this is called “cracking”) and plant them pointy side up about eight to 10 inches apart and one to three inches deep, depending on the size of the clove. Be sure to leave the skin on the clove to protect it from infection and from insects. Larger bulbs and larger cloves will produce larger garlic plants and bulbs. A dressing of alfalfa meal or well-cured manure will benefit the bulbs. Give the leaves an occasional foliar spray of seaweed tea.
There are two popular types of eating garlic (Allium sativum): hardneck and softneck. Hardneck garlic is the kind that produces tall, coiling scapes – very ornamental. It forms bulbils in the scape that can be harvested for seed (or eating, although the bulbils are small) or removed to allow the energy to go into the underground bulb.
8. Harvest clues.
In August you may see some of the strappy leaves beginning to go yellow. This is not a sign that you should increase watering. Rather, it means slow or stop watering, and get ready to harvest about the time you see three to four of the leaves turning yellow. If you leave the bulbs in the ground too long, they will begin to separate and split out of their casing.
Lift the bulbs from the soil carefully. If you have planted in well-composted, well-draining soil, this should not be hard. Do not wash. Allow the soil to dry out, after which it can be easily brushed away. Let the bulbs, with their leaves still in place, dry out for three or four days; then, while the leaves are still flexible, braid them together. Allow them to continue curing for two weeks, then store them in a cool, dry space – not in the refrigerator.
10. The don’ts.
Don’t plant garlic in the same place two years in a row. Don’t plant in boggy soil. Don’t crowd. Don’t let the soil dry out completely. Water one inch per week.