I have a farmer/friend who says garlic is the all-American crop–plant it during the World Series and harvest it on the 4th of July.
What a Philistine.
We planted our garlic on Columbus Day, because that’s what you do.
For people who have never gardened before, and who find the thought of it intimidating, I often recommend that they start by growing some garlic. It’s easy to grow and easy to take care of–the pests and wildlife that can make growing vegetables so challenging aren’t interested in garlic.
Garlic is ideally suited for raised beds and containers. We grow a lot of it, so we plant it in long rows. But for household use you don’t need much space.
To plant, just break the bulb into cloves and stick the clove into the ground, pointed end up, about 2 inches deep. Space the cloves 5-6 inches apart, in rows 8-10 inches apart (if you’re planting in rows). Alternatively you can plant them 2-3 inches apart and in the spring harvest every other plant as green/spring garlic (scallions).
You can plant the garlic you buy in a grocery store, but if you’re going to the trouble of planting your own you should probably make the extra effort to get a higher quality garlic. Buy some bulbs from a farmer at the market (each bulb has about 8 cloves on average) or get them from an online source. Good seed garlic may seem expensive but keep in mind that garlic is something you only have to buy once. We bought our seed garlic once years ago and since then we’ve been planting garlic we save from our harvest.
Once the garlic is planted, cover with straw. This will help protect the plants and suppress weeds.
Often (here at least) the plants will begin to emerge in the fall, then will go dormant during the winter. They’re tough plants so the winter doesn’t kill them. When the weather warms up they’ll start growing again.
We aim to harvest ours about June 18.
It’s hard to beat freshly dug homegrown garlic.
And according to my friend at least, there’s still time to get it in the ground this year.