Not a root vegetable, but grown underground just the same, Garlic is a nutritious vegetable of the Alliaceae family. Botanically recognised as Allium sativum, Garlic is closely related to Shallots, Onions, Leek and Chives.

Garlic has been used for centuries for both Medicinal and edible purposes. It’s use dates back to at least the times of Ancient Egypt. Its use was reported in China as early as the 6th Century AD.

Garlic can be propagated from seed but is more commonly grown by planting the individual segments of the bulb called “cloves” which will grow into a new bulb. China is perhaps the world’s largest producer of garlic. A good way to see if your garlic is locally grown or imported is to check the base. Imported garlic usually has the roots cut off for quarantine reasons in most countries where they are imported.

In cooking garlic is used for its exceptional flavouring to many savoury dishes:

- It can be added to soup, stews and casseroles, mixed with meat seasonings and added to bolognaise sauce, lasagne, meat loaf and rissoles.

- Crushed garlic mixed with vinegar, Italian herb mix and olive oil makes an excellent dressing for summer salads, cooked green beans or mixed through fresh tomato salsa.

- Finely sliced garlic is used in Chinese stir-fries, or mixed through salads.

- Crushed garlic can be mixed through butter and finely chopped chives to make delicious garlic butter for topping mashed potatoes or spreading on bread and toasting for delicious garlic bread.

Garlic also has many medicinal uses including:

Garlic is known to have antibacterial and antiviral properties. It is also thought to have antifungal activity. There are some studies showing garlic having a positive reaction to sufferers of heart disease and cancer. Some studies show reduced levels of cholesterol when garlic is regularly consumed. Regular supplementation of garlic is known to help prevent and fight symptoms of influenza.

The nutritional value of garlic is highly regarded. Garlic is high in carbohydrates and a rich source of vitamin C. Garlic is high in Vitamin B6 and has significant levels of Thiamine (Vitamin B1), Pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Niacin (Vitamin B3) and Folate (Vitamin B9).

Garlic is high in Dietary fibre, Calcium, Iron, Zinc, Manganese, Magnesium, Phosphorous, Potassium, and Selenium.

Garlic is also known for its natural insect repelling abilities. It can be grown near plants to prevent insect attack from aphids and similar insects or it can be infused with water and sprayed over foliage to kill insects.

Garlic grows well in most home garden situations.

Author's Bio: 

Eric J. Smith is an Experienced Horticulturalist with a keen interest in Organic Gardening. Eric's interest in Organics also shows in his interest in Organic Nutrition and Organic Skincare. More information can be found on these by visiting his websites... for Organic Health related products and information on living an Organic Lifestyle for general health information and articles on living a Healthy Lifestyle.

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