It’s time for me to ‘fess up: I think vampires are real. Well, maybe not *real* real. But back in ’92, after watching the Luke Perry / Kristy Swanson cult classic “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer,” I began to seriously consider what it meant to invite some vampire err… someone into your house. And while it’s *mostly* a running joke about my weird phobias (clowns ARE real and they’re terrifying, people), I’m not opposed to keeping a clove of garlic handy come Halloween time.
Are you planning a ghoulish gathering or hosting a Halloween pumpkin patch party this year? A quick Google search reveals all kinds of ideas for adding vampire-repelling garlic to your menu, from cupcakes to pumpkin sage bread to a warm and savory soup. If you want to pick your garlic from your garden next year, now is the time to plant! Garlic grows year-round in mild climates, and will be ready to harvest in spring or summer for those living in colder regions. Just be sure to plant your cloves six weeks before the first real frost.
- Pick a spot with full sun. Though garlic will grow in almost any soil, it will best thrive with well-drained dirt and plenty of organic matter.
- To prep, OrganicGardening.com suggests soaking your garlic bulbs in a jar of water with one tablespoon of baking soda and a tablespoon of liquid seaweed for a few hours before planting.
- Pull apart the bulb of garlic into cloves, and plant each clove 4 to 8 inches apart, with the pointed end facing up, the tip a good 2 inches beneath the soil.
- Cover with mulch or straw, and soon you’ll see the shoots starting to pop up. If you actually have a real winter, unlike those of us in Southern California who are just hoping for a tiny bit of rain, the garlic will stop growing until the spring.
- If your rain dance doesn’t work, water weekly to meet the garlic’s needs for about an inch of water while the garlic is growing.
- Prune aggressively. When your garlic starts producing flowering, curly tops that start to get spiky, sacrifice these “scapes” for the plant to grow a bigger bulb.
- According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, your garlic is ready to harvest when the tops turn yellow and start to fall over. Carefully pull up the bulb, and dry inside for 2 weeks, til the roots are dry and the skin of the garlic is dry and papery.
Even if you’re not worried about keeping vampire visitors at bay, there are many other benefits to garlic. Rich in antioxidants, it was used to fight gangrene in both world wars, and continues to battle disease as a regular part of your diet, combatting the common cold. Research is ongoing, but studies show that garlic benefits your heart health and blood pressure, as well as adding tons of flavor to your food.
(Photo Credit: HarvestToTable)