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Varieties Artichoke, silverskin, porcelain, purple stripe and rocambole
Packing Packaged in aerated mesh bag or crates in 1kg, 5kg, 10kg
Size 25 to 50mm in diameter
Availability August and September
Storage conditions Well aerated and refrigerated at -0 degrees Celsius
Transportation conditions Shipped in well aerated containers
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The scientific name for South Africa garlic is Allium sativum. Garlic was grown in England in the 16th century. However, the plant is known to have been used for over 5000 years in the medical practices, as a condiment and food. In the modern world garlic is widely grown and food, herb and for its medicinal properties. 

The garlic plant has an adventitious, shallow root system. The plant grows as a bulb with a stem of 5 to 6.5 cm height. While other members of the allium group such as onions and chives have rounded leaves, garlic has flat shaped grass-like leaves. The leaves are triangular in shape, growing in a dense clump and are blue-green in colour. Flowers develop from a stalk arising from the bulb and they produce green capsule-shaped fruit containing small black seeds. The capsules burst open when mature releasing seeds. The garlic seeds remain viable for up to 5years. 

Different garlic cultivators differ in size, colour, taste, hardness, the number of cloves in a single bulb, and the suitability for cooking. The cultivators commonly grown in South Africa include artichoke, silverskin, porcelain, purple stripe and rocambole.

 Garlic grows well in warm climates though it can survive cold winters. The most favourable temperatures for growth are 13 to 24 degrees Celsius. High temperatures and long days lead to good quality bulbs. The plant also requires adequate water supply throughout the growing season. When rains are not available, it should be irrigated. Well-drained fertile soils will also result in a good garlic yield. 

Garlic harvesting starts when the leave tops start to drop and brown. When the bulb matures the thickness of the sheath leaves decreases proper timing for harvest is necessary as too early or too late harvesting brings forth poor quality. Production seasons for garlic in South Africa are during the months of August and September.

Harvesting of South Africa garlic is done by hand in small scale while large scale farmers use potato lifters to dig them off the ground. After harvesting, garlic goes through a curing process to improve on quality. Large scale curing process involves leaving the bulbs in the field with their remaining leaves for a week. In smaller-scale practices, curing is done indoors in well-ventilated trays or bins to dry and improve in taste and flavour. 

Once the curing process is complete, the garlic is tripped off the roots, leaves are cut off and the outer most sheaths brushed off. The product is then sorted, graded and packaged according to size and quality for trade. The packaging is done in well-aerated mesh bag or crates in limited quantities as heat reduced overstuffing can easily spoil the product. 

For prolonged life of 6 to 7 months, garlic is stored at zero degrees Celsius at humidity levels of 70%. Too high humidity and higher temperatures result in quick spoilage. The product for export is shipped to different destinations. Key importing countries include the USA, Malaysia, Brazil and Indonesia.

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Other Herbs and Spices from South Africa: South Africa Garlic, South Africa Vanilla Beans,

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