All About Garlic

“Have you heard of the garlic diet? You don’t lose much weight, but from a distance your friends think you look thinner! [1]

 

Fall is garlic planting time in most of the country, including Los Angeles County. Garlic needs cool temperatures followed by heat to produce a bulb. Due to the long-term popularity of garlic, various varieties have been bred so people all over can grow garlic in different climates. The variety we provide to Learning Garden schools is the heirloom ‘California Early.’ Don’t let the name fool you, it still takes about 9 months for the garlic to be ready! Plant them as soon as you get them and harvest right as school ends.

‘California Early’ Garlic Quick Facts

  • Botanical name: Allium sativum
  • Spacing: 2″ deep, 4-6″ apart
  • Day to Germination: 10-20 days
  • Days to maturity: 270 days

For more detailed information on planting, maintaining, harvesting, and storing garlic, please check out our California Garlic Guide. More of a video person? Watch our Planting Garlic video (YouTube 2:37) and Interplanting Garlic and Onion video (YouTube 3:49).

History of Garlic

Garlic is believed to have originated in central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan) and northeastern Iran. Wild garlic grew in an area that extended from China to Egypt to Ukraine though now it is only found in central Asia.

Archeological sources indicate garlic was used as far back as 5,000 years ago in Egyptian and Indian cultures–it was even found in King Tutankhamen’s burial chamber! Garlic was used by the Roman army during the 1st century AD to treat infected soldiers who had intestinal worms. In 1858, Louis Pasteur noted garlic’s ability to kill bacteria.

During WWII penicillin was scarce and a diluted garlic mixture was used to disinfect wounds and prevent gangrene.

In present day, California produces 90% of the country’s garlic and onion. ‘California Early’ and ‘California Late’ are the two most common varieties grown in the United States. Despite California’s market share of garlic growing, 50% of the garlic available in the United States is from China.

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