Last week I planted the garlic and shallots (the picture above is from 8 years ago). Both are useful crops that multiply from single cloves to clumps or bulbs. They should probably have been put in last autumn but they will settle in and catch up as the weather warms; they are planted deeply enough to avoid anything but the heaviest frosts.
They need to be kept weeded and watered but are otherwise mostly problem free apart from a tendency to rust; apparently regular spraying with milk helps avoid this. Pliny recommended twisting the stalks to stop the plants running to seed. Planting them next to carrots helps to protect the latter crop from carrot fly by masking the scent that attracts the pest.
Garlic is a member of the allium family, like onions, leeks and chives. It probably came out of central Asia about 7,000 years ago and has been used by civilisations from the Ancient Egyptians onwards.
Garlic has a place in mythology, keeping vampires at bay. Medical research includes some positive studies of garlic impact on blood pressure and cholesterol; but no proven effect on the common cold.
You can eat the bulbs, shoots, leaves and the young flower stalks, or scapes. If dried after harvesting it should keep through the winter if kept cool, dry and frost free.
Katharine Whitehorn said that if your friends don't like garlic you should get some new friends.