Bear’s garlic thrives mostly in semi-shady areas under trees and in shady woods, but it can also be grown where the soil has been well watered over the winter. So you can grow it in your garden as well.
Uses of bear’s garlic
Bear’s garlic starts growing at the end of winter, flowers in the spring and withers completely in mid-summer. This allows you to grow other plants in its place in the spring.
Bear’s garlic is an excellent companion plant in the garden, benefiting most plants, improving their health and protecting them from pests and diseases. Gardeners have only observed a negative effect on green peas and beans when grown with bear’s garlic.
All parts of the plant can be eaten fresh. The leaves are delicious raw or cooked, and can be harvested from mid-January if the winter is mild. They have a similar taste to garlic and are an excellent ingredient in a winter salad. They can be used to flavor soups, stews or other dishes, but can also be eaten as a spinach-like stew.
The flowers open in mid-spring, and at this point the leaves lose their vitality. The flowers can be eaten in the same way as the leaves, although they have a slightly stronger flavor; they can also be used to decorate salads. As the seeds begin to ripen in the pods, their flavor becomes even stronger.
The bulbous roots can be eaten raw or cooked, and can be harvested all year round, but it is best to harvest them from July to December or January. They have a strong flavor but are quite small and difficult to harvest.
Medicinal properties of bear’s garlic
Bear’s garlic contains more beneficial active ingredients than garlic. It is an optimal dietary supplement and has a good effect on health when consumed regularly. It is an effective blood pressure and cholesterol reducer. The juice of the plant can also be used as a household disinfectant.
Bear’s garlic has antifungal and antibacterial properties; it is also a good antioxidant and protects the body from free radicals. It activates blood cells, reduces LDL cholesterol synthesis and prevents the formation of plaques and blood clots.
In 1992, bear’s garlic was named European Plant of the Year.
Bear’s garlic is preferable to common garlic because:
- it contains more active ingredients
- if a particular active ingredient is also present in common garlic, it is present in much lower quantities
- it is odorless (if you don’t rub the leaves first, of course)
Cultivation of bear’s garlic
If you have decided that you would like to grow bear’s garlic in your garden, you can choose from the following options:
- collect seeds at the beginning of summer and sow them in your garden or in a cold frame. The seeds will germinate well and in the third year they will be mature and ready to eat.
- dig up the roots during the summer and transplant them straight into your garden. The following year you will have a ready “crop”.