Monthly Archives: September 2013

Gardening: The Garlic Compendium

© 2012  by Raymond Alexander Kukkee   [caption id="attachment_2025" align="aligncenter" width="584"]a floret of well-developed garlic bulbils Garlic floret containing mature garlic bulbils (seed)  in hand    photo by rakukkee[/caption]

 

Garlic: A Gem with a Social Stigma?

It's a garlic conundrum:  We either love garlic or hate it. Garlic is a gastronomical delight with wonderful flavour and health benefits for those willing to bravely enjoy the pungent, lingering odor of garlic.

One perhaps must happily ignore the traditional stereotype image of the 'European'  consumer,  garlic snappers', wise and brave people who dared to eat garlic raw for it's inherent health benefits. Even with  it's interesting modern  attributes now well known, garlic remains the  epitome of' bad breath' flavours —even though it was once even considered helpful to repel evil spirits. Braids of this deterrent  were wishfully hung on front doors to chase away zombies, the walking dead, and  other assorted undesirable visitors.  Garlic is gaining popularity, but it is also little wonder deodorized garlic products were invented..

Aside from the daunting negative aspect of lingering odour, garlic offers health benefits not the least of which is the lowering of blood pressure. Garlic acts as an antiseptic, and is loaded with antioxidants, reportedly even helping to  prevent cancer because it contains S-Allycysteine. 

Garlic also happens to be a glorious, irreplaceable vegetable and spice in the kitchen.  That's a good reason to grow garlic in your garden.

What kind of Garlic should we Grow?

There are many varieties of garlic to choose from, different tastes, some very hot and spicy, and some very mild and bland.  There are a large number of garlic varieties, but generally, garlic is divided up into three basic categories:

  • Soft necked Varieties   Typically have a soft, fat neck.
  • Hard necked Varieties   Typically have a hard center stem
  • Porcelains    Typically display a satin-like wrapper on the bulb. 

Garlic:  Is Bigger Better?   You decide.

Elephant garlic is a soft-neck variety, and is very large compared to ordinary varieties of  garlic. Everyone is impressed with the gigantic garlic which displays a huge bulb. It is our human nature to want 'bigger' vegetables Garlic is no exception.  Elephant Garlic  (allium ampeloprasum)  in some circles  might even be considered  to be closer to a leek than it is to garlic.

Elephant garlic is indeed endowed with size, --a single clove can be bigger than a bulb of most varieties, --but the giant lacks the power of, and cannot be substituted with true garlic varieties if called for in a recipe. The giant is substantially milder and is used where only a hint of flavour is desired.   One additional and important point to remember about the the elephant variety  is that like other soft-neck varieties of garlic,  it does not store for an extended period of time.  By comparison, ordinary white varieties are  far smaller,much  stronger in flavour,  and will store far longer periods of time.

Garlic Varieties

A few varieties are listed following, but across the world, new varieties are being discovered every year by garlic growers and aficionados. Home gardeners will also discover that this unique vegetable may hybridize and acclimatize to your garden location and conditions, eventually producing a strain that is marginally different.

Soft neck  Varieties  (Allium sativum sativum)

Soft neck varieties typically have a thicker, soft neck. The bulbs do not store for periods as long as the hard-necked varieties do.

Inchelium Red         mild flavour, heavy bulbs, 8-15 cloves per bulb

Chengdu                   robust flavour, hot.      

Lorz Italian               strong flavour, hot,  12-19 cloves per bulb, resembles artichoke

Polish White              strong flavour, large bulbs. 8-12 cloves per bulb.

Susanville                  mild flavour, white-skinned variety 10-12 cloves per bulb

HARD NECKED Varieties   (Allium sativum ophioscordon)

Hard-necked varieties mature with a hard center stem. (the root/floret stock).  Hard-necked varieties are more difficult to braid for storage, but store for longer periods of time successfully.   These varieties include the Rocambole ( Italian ) garlic varieties.

Bai Pi Suan                Marbled purple stripe, medium to hot  late variety

Belarus                       Early, purple stripe, 6-9 cloves in each bulb

Bogatyr                      Big cloves, hot flavour, white with 5-7 purple cloves

Fireball                       Purple, a spicy variety, 7-8 cloves with red skins

Jovak                          Late, marbled purple stripe 

Kazakstan                  Early variety, white, 7-8 cloves per bulb

Kyjev  (Kiev)             Larger bulbs, 4 cloves per bulb

Metechi                       Strong flavour,  marbled purple stripe  with  4-7 large cloves/bulb 

Purple Glazer            Purple/silver, strong, lacks after taste, 8-12 bulbs/clove

Purple Trillium           Early variety, smaller, 6-7 cloves/bulb

Siberian                      Strong flavour, 7-8 pink-skinned cloves, ultra hardy

Uzbekistan                  Purple Stripe, large cloves, 2-6 per bulb

Zemo                           Recommended for the north, Spicy, mild heat  2-6 bulbs/clove 

Chinese Purple           An early, vigorous  Asiatic variety  with rich flavour

California White         Characteristics Unknown but reportedly  similar to *Music

 

Porcelain Varieties

Porcelain  varieties grow well under diverse conditions including in our colder North American geographic areas.  Strong-flavoured,  Porcelain varieties usually have 4-7  larger cloves and  have a typically satin-colored wrapper on the bulb.  Porcelain garlic varieties are attractive and usually do well in home gardens.

 * Music  is a classic (Heritage) porcelain garlic variety.   It is early, a good producer with mild,  large bulbs, and typically may have 5-6 cloves/bulb. 

Growing Garlic in Your Garden

Garlic grows best in well-prepared, rich soil.  Separate the bulbs into individual cloves, and choose the largest cloves for planting.    Plant garlic 2” deep, 4” apart, late in the fall a couple or three weeks prior to the ground freezing for the best results.  Mulch heavily for winter protection if desired, but garlic tolerates freezing well.

Optimal timing for planting in the fall in your specific area should allow newly-planted garlic to develop excellent root systems, but not break ground with top growth.  Note that fall planting is preferable, but if planting in the spring, plant garlic as soon as the soil can be worked.

In the spring, remove heavy mulch cover and mulch around the plants carefully to retain moisture and suppress weeds. Keep weed-free. When the garlic produces curled floret stems (called scapes) remove them for larger bulb production.  Use the scapes and immature florets in salads and cooking. If you allow  florets to develop,  the small bulbils (garlic “seed” )  can be planted in the fall. Bulbils planted in the fall  will produce small garlic bulbs in the subsequent  growing season. It's a great idea to plant a few bulbils, some second-year bulbs,(which may be small-onion-like)  and full-sized cloves--which can help you develop your own strain of garlic.

Harvesting and Storing Garlic

Harvest garlic when the leaves begin to turn yellow. Pull the garlic bulbs and  lay them on a bench to dry. Remove excessive soil and clean the bulbs.  You can either braid the garlic and hang the braids up to dry, or bench them for a few days, allow the leaves to dry completely, twist the dried leaves off, and store the bulbs in mesh bags in a dry,dry,  cool environment.

Later in the fall, when it is right for your geographical area, choose healthy bulbs, separate the cloves, and again, choose the largest bulbs for fall planting about  2- 3 weeks prior to the ground freezing. If timed correctly, the tops will not break the surface, but for the curious green thumb garlic lover,  excellent root structures can be observed on the planted cloves, empowering spring growth and success.

YES, it is time to plant garlic.

Is that Incoming I hear? 

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Syrian Crisis: Call for Common Sense or WW III ?

© 2013  by Raymond Alexander Kukkee   [caption id="attachment_2010" align="aligncenter" width="620"]photo by phaewilk (morguefile)             Darkening Skies               photo by phaewilk (morguefile)[/caption]

      "Clearly something must be done.  Why not try common sense?

Darkening Skies

The world is waiting with abated breath for the next indicator, any indicator at all that might reveal whether  President Barack Obama and the United States of America  will up the ante in the Syrian crisis, ratchet up the tension more with additional warships, more rocket testing, or if he will  just arbitrarily  light a  fuse,  and bomb the crap out of Syria's President Bashar al Assad and his palace out of existence and  complete the destruction of Syria regardless of proposals or solutions offered.

President Assad, for the record, emphatically denies any use of chemical warfare upon his own people and blatantly  warns "any and all retaliation" if  the USA bombs Syrian targets.  How lovely.  "Let's all save face". Let's allow the mindless to create reality that results in real people dying. More people, that would be.  With an estimated 100,000 people having already died in the Syrian destruction.   "The US should expect every action". Right.

How encouraging. A red line and another red line, taunts and promises, sticks, stones, broken bones,  and how many red lines shall we cross?  Kind of reminds you of little 10-year-old brats at recess, doesn't it, daring other little brats to cross lines scuffled with sneakers in the sand of a playground.  This, however, is decidedly not play.  It is international posturing and war-mongering, not marbles....  Let's keep that in mind.

Will the ugly dogs of war  be once more unleashed, or will the world collectively  force encourage our 'so-called-leaders'  to  use some genuine intelligence in this crisis, and call for common sense?  That would be refreshing, and  a united, positive call for action based on international law and diplomacy in this specific crisis would undoubtedly  save  thousands --but even more worrisome, perhaps even millions of lives. Potentially, WW III  can happen.  "If it can happen it invariably does"  comes to mind.

Dealing with The Syrian Crisis is no longer merely  a "Game of Credibility"

There's a lot at stake. Let's all grow up now, children,  Barack, Bashar, and Vladimir,  and recognize WW III is a possibility if stubborn leaders allow their "egos" and "saving face"  and "credibility"  issues to be more important than humanity itself.  Make no mistake about it.  We don't much care whether individual politicians and leaders "lose credibility" or are embarrassed by their mistakes and ineptitude or not  if thousands, or  millions of people will be killed in the process,  do you?   

"Did Bashar do it? Of course..well, er, Not...er...maybe..er.. 

Whether or not Bad Boy Bashar  (B.B.B.) personally approved the use of chemical weapons  is debatable;  we, the ordinary people of the world have absolutely no way of confirming which pack of lies is "more true" than the next, isn't that  a conundrum?   Having trundled  the USA into  Iraq based upon a pack of lies isn't exactly the most encouraging precedent, is it, Mr. President?  The fact is, "credibility"  of the USA and it's war machine has been a problem for quite some time, so what else is new?  Worrying about 'credibility' ?   Such offerings of "unproven proof"  are  inexcusably poor reasons to bomb a desperately poor country and perhaps start WW III today--at any stretch of the imagination.

The Boy who Called Wolf  is Choking

The "boy who called wolf" comes to mind;  now, mind you, that foolish little boy didn't have pictures of victims of chemical warfare choking on foaming saliva in their death throes  sent out in social media either, --- ugly, very ugly images indeed have been offered as "truth".  If it is truth,  it is ugly and unacceptable.  The boy didn't have unprecedented collection of data on everyone on earth either, did he....so  fine.  We agree. It is not the end of the story, but no, even IN this modern age, with the abundance of political liars, the big war industry and their  questionable agenda,  we have no way to validate those ugly and distressing pictures, so ....you guessed it, no, it is not fine--or is it?  You decide We don't pretend to know.

One thing is for certain; now world opinion is clearly divided and at an impasse as the US congress, politicians, public and all  point point unsure, nervous  fingers and deny President Obama a clear message. ....but what else could the President really expect?  The wolf really IS at the door.   Perhaps the boy who called wolf really  is choking. This time.

Clearly concrete action must be taken.  Why not try common sense?

Russia Demands action but not logic

Russia's Vladimir Putin is now calling for Syria to surrender their chemical weapons to international supervision . Isn't that lovely?  Why does Syria need chemical weapons at all?  Afraid of who, Iran?  Iraq?  Tiny Jordan?  It's giant ally Russia?  Why is Vladimir Putin not demanding from his "Syrian allies" -- the surrender of  Bashar al Assad, instead,  complete with any and all of his generals, henchmen, and perpetrators or opposition involved in this heinous crime against humanity?

Sorry, Vladimir, with all due respect,  but since your unbelievable veto stopped the UN approval of cooperative military intervention,  we must ask why  your great "power" is not being used --as an ally of Syria-- to simply arrest the criminals in Syria?  Why have you, as a major Syrian ally, not made any attempt to  haul them  off to an international court, and have them  tried for their inconceivably ugly actions against their own people--regardless who they are?

If Bashar al Assad and his people are  innocent of these allegations as he shouts loudly,   why has he not arrested and turned over the REAL perpetrators to international justice?   We ask our readers to think for themselves. Contradictions become apparent immediately.

Does Bashar naively "not know" who is responsible?   As the well-informed and powerful President of Syria, if he does not know who is responsible for use of Syria's weapons of mass destruction--which he is personally responsible for,  he's incompetent.  Is Bashar merely a puppet head of state?

The fact is, If  B.B.B  (Bad Boy Bashar)  does know who is responsible, he is either a) responsible himself,  an arrogant,  mindless, brutal  leader without ethics,   and/or  b)  --he is conspiring  with the guilty to protect the perpetrators  "guilty with his approval or not".   you cannot have it both ways, so which is it? Regardless, Bashar is responsible.

So, which will it be, Common Sense or WW III?

We suggest to all world "leaders" combined,  if there's ever been a time to use "common sense" and use it collectively and sincerely,   it would be now. Does anyone really believe that more chemical warfare, death and mutually-assured destruction is the final solution?

We suspect everyone wishes to be part of the greatest revolution in civilization ever;   forget  collective egos, 'credibility', and power mongering. We all wish to do what is RIGHT for a change; we want to  contribute to some common sense to solve the Syrian Crisis. --and how about now, not "later' at everyone's convenience?

Here at Incoming Bytes we hypothesize it would be inherently brilliant --and in fact, it would be genuine progress in civilization itself -- to gainfully use the power of  big political machines world-wide --and the wealth of the globe united, to precipitate a unique, diplomatic international demand for the arrest of all persons responsible for the use of chemical weapons----whoever they may be--and bring them to international justice at a representative world court.

Sadly, we do not hold our breath, for if mistakes of the past are any lesson, they appear to remain unlearned. We can, however, hope for a universal  call for common sense even if it does not materialize  for another century and  the dust settles from WW III.

Surprisingly, Russia  suddenly  proposed the  placing of  Syria's chemical weapons cache  under international supervision for eventual destruction.     Why so suddenly? To buy time?  To deceive?  Collusion?   To avoid getting found out, accounting for chemical weapons already used? Any and all of the above?   What do you think?

We laud any solution and  movement in the right direction.

Better late than never.

Is that Incoming I hear?

     
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