Picking up on where we left off oh so many weeks ago, a la Harvesting Garlic – Part I, it’s now well time to harvest your garlic. Before we walk through the simple process, here’s a few facts to wet your palate, ward off vampires, treat your wounds, prepare for battle, and boost your fertility.
- Garlic (Allium sativum) has been used for thousands of years for medicinal purposes. Sanskrit records show its medicinal use about 5,000 years ago, and it has been used for at least 3,000 years in Chinese medicine. The Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, and Romans used garlic for healing purposes.
Hippocrates (300BC) recommended garlic for infections, wounds, cancer, leprosy, and digestive disorders. Dioscorides praised it for its use in treating heart problems, and Pliny listed the plant in 61 remedies for a wide variety of ailments ranging from the common cold to leprosy, epilepsy and tapeworm.
- During World War I, the Russian army used garlic to treat wounds incurred by soldiers on the Front Line. Although Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin in 1928 largely replaced garlic at home, the war effort overwhelmed the capacity of most antibiotics, and garlic was again the antibiotic of choice. The Red Army physicians relied so heavily on garlic that it became known as the “Russian Penicillin”.
Dramatic results in treating animals infested with ticks showed that garlic was able to effectively kill the ticks within 30 minutes, while garlic proved to be a repellent toward new infestations. Garlic was also successful in treating cattle with hoof and mouth disease.
- In a study conducted in Russia in 1955, garlic extract used therapeutically was found to bind with heavy metals in the body, aiding their elimination. Workers suffering from chronic lead poisoning while working in industrial plants were given daily doses of garlic extract and saw a decrease in their symptoms. Other experiments that took place in Japan using mercury and cadmium also found that garlic bound with the heavy metals.
Egyptian slaves were given a daily ration of garlic, as it was believed to ward off illness and to increase strength and endurance. As indicated in ancient Egyptian records, the pyramid builders were given beer, flatbread, raw garlic and onions as their meager food ration. Upon threatening to abandon the pyramids leaving them unfinished, they were given more garlic. It cost the Pharaoh today’s equivalent of 2 million dollars to keep the Cheops pyramid builders supplied with garlic.
- During the reign of King Tut, fifteen pounds of garlic would buy a healthy male slave. Indeed, when King Tut’s tomb was excavated, there were bulbs of garlic found scattered throughout the rooms.
It became custom for Greek midwives to hang garlic cloves in birthing rooms to keep the evil spirits away. As the centuries passed, this ancient custom became commonplace in most European homes.
- Roman soldiers ate garlic to inspire them and give them courage. Because the Roman generals believed that garlic gave their armies courage, they planted fields of garlic in the countries they conquered, believing that courage was transferred to the battlefield.
Dreaming that there is “garlic in the house” is supposedly lucky; to dream about eating garlic means you will discover hidden secrets.
- European folklore gives garlic the ability to ward off the “evil eye.” Central European folk beliefs considered garlic a powerful ward against devils, werewolves, and vampires. To ward off vampires, garlic could be worn on one’s person, hung in windows, or rubbed on chimneys and keyholes.
This old Welsh saying may indeed have merit as a health remedy: “Eat leeks in March and garlic in May, Then the rest of the year, your doctor can play.”
Untie your bundles of garlic from their drying place.
Clip off the top stalk of the garlic and brush off remaining dirt around the cloves so it looks like this:
Be sure to save some cloves from larger bulbs, break them apart, and plant them for next season’s crop.
And shazaam! Garlic for the year!
Facts from “Garlic: Superstitions, Folklore and Fact.” American Folklore. Last modified December 13, 2014. Accessed September 6, 2016. http://americanfolklore.net/folklore/2010/10/garlic_superstitions_folklore.html.