If I could have put one plant to grow, I believe it would be garlic.
Garlic is one of the earliest documented plans to be used by humans in the treatment of disease and to maintain health. From Neolithic times in central Asia spreading to the Middle East and North Africa in 3000 BC, garlic has been used by man. Ancient medical text from Egypt, Greece, Rome, China, and India, each prescribing medical applications of garlic. There are even biblical references to garlic, as well as garlic in the Jewish teachings and the Quran.
The wild plant of course was used first and then slowly domesticated over time, garlic has been worth its weight in gold.
Around 3000 BC, trading parties from India reached Middle East, where they introduced garlic to the Babylonians and Assyrian Empire. From these places neighboring civilizations found the plant to be useful as food seasoning, medical ingredients, and religious ingredients.
Garlic is highly nutritious but has very few calories. A 1 ounce serving of garlic contains, manganese, vitamin B6, vitamin B1, vitamin C, calcium, copper, potassium, phosphorus, iron, also contains trace amounts of various other nutrients. This includes 42 cal, with 1.8 g of protein and 9 g of carbs.
The medical uses for garlic are too many to name, the fact that garlic has been used for almost every ailment of the human body, is amazing. From cancer to insect bites, from athletes foot to heart problems, garlic has been used to treat almost any ailment you can think of.
There are a few drawbacks when soft prescribing or using garlic medicinally. Garlic especially fresh, may increase the risk of bleeding. Garlic can irritate the stomach and digestive track sometimes causing digestion problems. Garlic can lower blood pressure, people of prescription medication should be careful. And some people may be sensitive to garlic on their skin.
Garlic produces a chemical called allicin. This is what seems to make garlic work for certain conditions. Allicin also makes garlic smell. Some products are made “odorless” by aging the garlic, but this process can also make the garlic less effective.
As for using garlic and cooking, I think that stands for itself. Whether using the bulbs or the leaves, garlic is a wonderful addition to your culinary uses.
Garlic can be grown year-round in a pot right on your windowsill in your kitchen. I believe the fresh garlic is always better than aged garlic. I myself prefer wild garlic to the grocery store variety.
Yes, if I could grow but one plant, it would be garlic. The flavor, the culinary uses, and the medical benefits, outweigh that of any other plant that I know of.
By Rich Beresford