Used as a flavouring for a wide range of foods, garlic is an essential addition to any herb garden but if you are a lover of garlic, its best grown in a bed in the vegetable garden. It is often recommended to plant garlic in spring but, because it requires a long growing season, it is better planted in late autumn and even in winter if the soil is not too heavy with frost. Plant individual cloves of garlic in a sunny spot in soil that has been enriched with a good amount of organic matter - home-made garden compost will do.
Like all bulbs, you need to make sure the soil is free draining as waterlogging will cause the bulbs to rot.
If you decide to plant your garlic in spring, you can use a shop-bought organic garlic bulb and separate the cloves for planting. If you plant in late autumn to winter, you are best buying garlic bulbs especially for growing in your climate which you will find in your local garden centre.
Harvest garlic just as you would onions when the leaves start to turn yellow. leave them to dry out in the garden if you can so that they form a nice papery sheath and then tie like onions and hang indoors in a dry airy place until you are ready to use them.
In the kitchen, the uses of garlic need know explanation - use garlic in virtually any dish. To stop your breath smelling, remove the inner core of the garlic clove and then crush the garlic to release its flavour before chopping.
As a companion plant, garlic is used as a general insect repellant and can be planted next to most fruits and vegetables although avoid planting it near beans, cabbage or strawberries.
Garlic has antiseptic and cleansing properties and is said to be a powerful antioxidant.