Growing the miracle plant

Since ancient Egyptian times, garlic held the reputation of being a sort of cure-all plant.

Ancient Egyptians used it for strength and endurance and many studies have since focussed on its medicinal potential.

Whether or not it does increase strength has yet to be proven, but Times nutritionist Amanda Ursell says one advantage that has been proved beyond doubt is garlics potential ability to reduce cholesterol.

"This ability is thought to depend very much on the quality of the supplement and the levels of allicin present," Ms Ursell explained, noting that allicin is a substance found in uncooked garlic.

The nutritionist revealed that garlic may also reduce our risk of blood clots, heart disease and high blood pressure, and many people believe it helps to fight off colds.

Garlic can be grown in the UK in either a sunny spot in the garden or in the greenhouse.

In order to produce good sized bulbs, garlic should be grown quickly. This means a sunny spot with good drainage is essential.

Best planted in mid October, garlic will take around ten months to reach maturity and adding a little sand to the soil to improve drainage will help bulbs resist rotting over the winter.