I haven’t grown garlic in years but this year I got my act together and managed to get some planted in the garden before the real snow! I purchased some locally grown garlic so it should do very well in my garden. There are two main types of garlic. Stiffneck and soft neck. Stiffneck garlic plants send up a false flower stalk in the spring called a scape. Stiffneck garlic bulbs usually contain 5-7 large cloves. Softneck garlic plants do not produce a scape, and generally contain a dozen or more relatively small cloves. I planted the stiff neck variety. Garlic is multiplied by vegetative reproductions rather than by seeds. Individual garlic cloves are planted and they each produce a bulb. The nice thing about planting garlic is that it is planted in the fall, it’s out of sync with other crops. Garlic requires a cold treatment for about two months to induce bulbing. You want to give the garlic enough time to form roots but not enough time to form leaves! Our fairly mild fall gave me the opportunity to plant my garlic.
I pulled all the weeds from one of my raised beds and removed the various little stones that seem to pop up every year. First thing I did was to break each garlic set into its cloves, just like you do when you are going to cook them. Then I planted each clove, root side down every 5-6 inches apart. Each clove was pushed into the ground about 4 inches and then covered with dirt. I didn’t want the frost to pop them out of the ground. Once the garlic was all planted I mulched the bed with a nice layer of straw. Hopefully each of those cloves will grow into a nice, plumb garlic bulb! Now to be patient.
In the late spring the scapes should develop. These should be removed to retain the plant’s resources for bulb formation. The scapes are edible! Something new to try! I won’t be able to harvest my garlic until the lower leaves begin yellowing from the tips on down, usually in July. Ideally you want the bulbs to have attained their maximum size but the cloves have not started to separate, this way they will store better. I will let the bulbs air dry where they are protected from the sun. Then they will be ready to store.