By Umar Nsubuga
The price of garlic is shooting up each passing day, a reason you need to grow it in your backyard, to save while enjoying the health benefits of this irresistible spice and herb.
Twaha Kakooza, one of the leading garlic farmers in Kayunga district advises farmers to always start small and expand as their experience grows.
“For example, I encourage most beginners in growing garlic to start with a garden measuring only 20ft x 20ft. Garlic requires a lot of attention, so farmers who get carried away by the big income it promises could land in trouble. With a small garden in the beginning, you will be sure if you have a good seed and have mastered all the agronomic practices involved with it. That way, you can increase the planting acreage rest assured that you understand the implications,” he says.
Kakooza encourages people doing full-time jobs to venture into agricultural activities that require less time for supervision.
“I always tell such people to embrace afforestation because it can be supervised with ease alongside their job. However, projects such as poultry require full-time attention and may cause them losses due to glitches in management,” he counsels.
Kakooza also appeals to Ugandans who have travelled abroad to ‘bring back something useful home’.
“That is what I have done. Learn about these technologies from abroad, but localise them so that they can benefit your fellow countrymen. That is what I am doing at my farm,” he says.
Apart from being a venture from which lots of money can be got in a short time, garlic is of great importance in our bodies.
Planting and harvesting
Kakooza says it’s important to create a moist nursery bed from where you cover the bulbs until they develop leaves.
After, prepare the soil before planting the seedling, 2-3 inches deep, Kakooza says the soil should be fertile, loamy and slightly sandy for proper development of the bulbs.
Space the garlic six inches apart to deter the plants from competing for water, light and mineral salts.
“Garlic requires direct sunlight to grow well,” he explains.
As the plants grow, one must water and weeds them. However, Kakooza cautions that one should avoid watering it too much because too much water may lead to the bulb rotting.
“When the leaves on the stem turn yellow and later, brown, begin to harvest using a garden fork to avoid damaging the cloves,” he advises.
Health benefits of garlic
–Garlic has been found to assist babies to gain weight while they are in the womb.
-Garlic strengthens the immune system as well as helps to fight chest infections, coughs and congestion.
– Garlic contains high levels of iodine, which makes it a very effective treatment for hyperthyroid conditions.
-Scurvy is treated with vitamin C and garlic contains good levels of vitamin C too.
-Cardiovascular disease can be reduced by ingesting garlic.
– Fungal and bacterial vaginal infections are toast when treated with garlic!
– Garlic is a great source of vitamin B6, which is needed for a healthy immune system and the efficient growth of new cells.
– Garlic can aid in the prevention of multiple types of cancer.
– Garlic regulates blood sugar as it enhances the level of insulin in the blood.