When you can plant garlic depends in large part on your specific climate, but most often there are two grow seasons for garlic: one starting in the early fall and the other in the middle of spring. If you are in an area that has a frost, plan on planting the cloves approximately 4-8 weeks before the ground gets too cold. If you’re in southern areas, you may wait until February or March to plant.
To plant garlic, simply break apart the cloves from a single head (but keep on the papery husk). You can plant garlic you buy directly from your grocery store, but they may be a variety that’s unsuited to your climate and sometimes they’re treated to increase shelf life in a way that makes them harder to grow. If it works, congratulations and enjoy! If not, try planting from seed or buying an organic garlic head from a trusted source.
Place cloves 4-5 inches apart and 2 inches deep with the wide root side facing down (if a small green stalk has started to poke through, that should face up). Ensure the soil is well drained and has plenty of nutrients and the garlic stalks will break through in spring as the temperatures warm up.
Garlic is a notoriously easy plant to grow that doesn’t take much care at all. If you’re in a climate that gets snow, you’ll want to consider heavy mulching before the frost to make sure that temperatures don’t drop below 20F where the stalks can no longer survive. Weeds and most pests are repelled by garlic (it’s a common companion plant for many popular vegetables) so there isn’t typically much maintenance or upkeep.
Garlic requires good amounts of nitrogen, so make sure to add organic fertilizer, worm casting, or compost, especially if you notice a yellowing of the leaves. Water every 3-5 days and observe regularly to enjoy growing such a healthy and delicious herb.
Harvest times will vary based on local conditions, but a good rule of thumb is to harvest when the tops being to yellow and fall over the but stalk is not yet completely dry. To harvest, pull out the plants from the ground, gently shake off the remaining soil, and place in a well-ventilated shady spot for up to 2 weeks. It’s common to create “braids” of garlic and hang them near doors or outside for maximal airflow on all sides.
The garlic is cured and ready for storage when the skin is papery and the roots are dry. The crown of the root should be pretty hard and the individual cloves should break apart easily.