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Garlic is one of the most versatile plants around. It is extensively used in cooking, but medicinally classed as almost a superfood as it has antiviral, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. The properties in garlic help protect against colds and flu and is said to help lower blood pressure and cholesterol. (See the Garlic Information Centre at garlic.mistral.co.uk for more information). In addition, it's very easy to grow.
Garlic needs a sunny site with well-drained soil and produces a single crop each year. Separate a head of garlic into cloves (special seed garlic heads are available from nurseries, but for a first attempt ordinary garlic from the supermarket will do) and push the cloves into the soil ca 2-3 cm deep with the tip upwards, keeping them about a hand's width apart. Each clove will turn into a new garlic bulb with 10-20 cloves.
In the northern latitudes, plant your garlic in late autumn, to give it enough time to mature. The first leaves will appear just after the frost sets in, and your garlic will be ready to harvest come June/July. Do not harvest the bulbs until their green shoots have turned brown and died off.
Lift the bulbs carefully without damaging them, and then use the dead leaves to tie the bulbs in bundles. Hang them up in a cool, dry place to dry out.