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common name: Garlic
dry soil, moist soil
preferred soil pH: alkaline
minimum temp: -18°C
USDA zone: 3 to 10
Long cultivated and greatly valued for culinary and medicinal use. Strongly aromatic and grown for its bulbs which are made up of 5 to 18 bulblets (cloves), each enclosed by a papery skin. Linear grey-green leaves to 60cm long. Hollow stems bear umbels of bell shaped white flowers and also bulbils.
Best on well drained, light alkaline soil. Generally needs at least two months at cool temperatures in order to form a good bulb.
From seed or more usually from individual bulb cloves, planted about 10cm deep, preferably in autumn.
Very important world-wide as a powerful food flavouring. Used medicinally for thousands of years and still regarded highly for its many beneficial properties, including lower blood pressure and cholesterol. When garlic is crushed or finely chopped it produces Allicin, a potent medicinal compound.
Thought to have originated from a cross of the wild species A. longicuspis, A. tuncelianum and possibly A. macrochaetum. First occurred in the mountainous regions of Central Asia.
There are two distinct variety groups, hard-neck (Allium sativum var. ophioscorodon) and soft-neck (Allium sativum var. sativum). Hard-neck varieties will produce a flower stalk, whereas soft-neck generally does not. Soft-necks develops more numerous cloves covered by white papery outer skin, usually store better and are the most commonly cultivated.