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Cultivation of Garlic and Parts Used


It does not grow in the wild, and is thought to have arisen in cultivation, probably descended from the species Allium longicuspis, which grows wild in south-western Asia.

The soil may be sandy, loam or clay, though Garlic flourishes best in a rich, moist, sandy soil. Garlic beds should be in a sunny spot. They must be kept thoroughly free from weeds.

The domesticated garlic plant does not produce seeds, but is grown from bulbs. Divide the bulbs into their component 'cloves' - each fair-sized bulb will divide into ten or twelve cloves.

Garlic can tolerate periods without rain, but best results come from plants that receive regular watering. Garlic is best planted in the fall and allowed to over winter in the ground, to be harvested the following summer. In mild climates garlic will grow all winter; in cold climates areas, it will go dormant in the winter, and should be mulched.

When planted early in the spring, in February or March, the bulbs should be ready for lifting in August, when the leaves will be beginning to wither. Should the summer have been wet and cold, they may probably not be ready till nearly the middle of September.

Parts Used

The bulb is the only edible part.

When a cell of a garlic clove is broken by chopping, chewing, or crushing, enzymes stored in cell vacuoles trigger the breakdown of several sulfur-containing compounds stored in the cell fluids. The resultant compounds are responsible for the sharp or hot taste and strong smell of garlic.

When eaten in quantity, garlic may be strongly evident in the diner's sweat and breath the following day. This is because garlic's strong smelling sulfur compounds are metabolized forming allyl methyl sulfide. Allyl methyl sulfide (AMS) cannot be digested and is passed into the blood. It is carried to the lungs and the skin where it is excreted. Since digestion takes several hours, and release of AMS several hours more, the effect of eating garlic may be present for a long time.

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