We've been busy at the farm this last month harvesting and curing garlic. It was one of our original crops which seems to thrive in our cool winters. We grow a uniquely Australian cultivar called Monaro Purple, named after the area in the Blue Mountains it was first noticed growing. We grow all our garlic organically without any chemicals or machinery so its hard work but there is something exciting about pulling up each bulb in anticipation of what lies beneath the soil surface!
We target ANZAC day each year as the guideline planting date, and move this back or forward a few weeks depending on the weather. And generally start harvesting late November, though the plant itself tells us when , we start when the 2 sets of leaves have yellowed. We alway find certain beds are ready before others so we can spread the work out over weeks and sometimes and entire month. Garlic requires little maintenance other than weed management, which is a pain. You think under control then spring hits with a vengence and nature always has the last laugh! I've tried cover crops, mulching and weed matting, they all have plusses and minuses. For the home gardners I would definitely stick with a nice straw mulch.
After harvesting the entire garlic plant is hung bulb side down in our shed for 3 to 6 weeks, again depending on the bulb size and weather to cure. Hanging bulb side down enable all the flavours and goodness held in the stem and leaves to flow to the bulb. Oh and we never wash the bulbs before curing, at this stage adding moisture is the opposite step to curing! As the plants dry the vascular tissues in the stem close and the skin around the bulbs tighten to provide a seal enabling longer term storage for your garlic.
The health benefits of garlic have been spruiked for many years, much of this has been scientifically substantiated and mainly centre around the sulphur compounds in fresh garlic. This article provides an easy to read summary and references to support the health claims. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-proven-health-benefits-of-garlic
For me, I just love the flavour and I don't need a scientist for that!
If your interested in buying our organic Monaro Purple Garlic please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org we ship to most of Australia (except WA and Tasmania).