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February 5, 2013 > Pat Kite's Garden: Garlic breath

Pat Kite's Garden: Garlic breath

By Pat Kite

Have you eaten your garlic today?

One clove has only four calories, no fat, and a just a single gram of carbohydrate. It also comes in handy as revenge breath on folk who pour on perfume in confined spaces. You can, of course, grow your own garlic. But you must plant it now. Author Pam Peirce, Golden Gate Gardening, reports she grew six pounds of garlic in an area just 3 by 3 feet.

Find a sunny spot. Try to incorporate some manure or compost into the soil, especially if you use our area "building brick" clay soil. I have reached a point where I use inexpensive bagged compost for almost all garden plant installations. If you can't get your garlic bulb from a nursery, try a firm bulb from the grocery.

Separate the little bulblets or cloves. Do not peel them. Push them in soil pointy end up, four inches apart. Tops should be about one-inch deep. No garden? You can grow a garlic clove in a 4-inch pot on a sunny windowsill. If you have not worn gloves during this exercise, the computer suggests rubbing baking soda on your hands, rinsing this off, then washing hands with dish soap and water. Do not drench the planted area. Water only after the first little green shoots emerge. Too much water causes bulb rot.

Depending on which reference tome you read, eating garlic is either great or awful. It has been referenced as an aphrodisiac, certainly forbidden to monks and widows in case they got lively thoughts. If you had the plague, holding a garlic clove in your mouth was a possible cure. Other uses included a cure for worms, dropsy, snake bite and, mixed with honey, a cure for rheumatism if rubbed on ones' knees and such. It has been used for over 3000 years in Chinese medicine.

In Rome's past, noblemen disdained the use of garlic for themselves, but fed it to their laborers and soldiers to encourage energy and aggression. Ancient Egyptians considered garlic a sacred plant, and the builders of Egypt's Great Pyramid, about 1900 B.C., gave their laborers a heavy diet of garlic and onions. However, in ancient India, if a person wanted to eat garlic, he had to leave town to do so. Long ago, Greeks found garlic disgusting and thought anybody eating it had sinned. To cleanse criminals of their crimes, they were forced to eat garlic for several days.

Personally, I prefer a sandwich of thinly sliced garlic on sourdough bread, pan-toasted in ample butter, as a cold winter's night snack. My cat, Royal Pookiness, makes certain to sleep on the far end of the bed.

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