Updated: Dec 11, 2020
I love garlic. Growing up, my mother put garlic in damn near everything we ate. When a recipe calls for garlic, I double what's recommended. Did you know garlic is a natural antibiotic? I sometimes eat a whole clove raw, followed by a spoonful of raw honey. It's worth it, especially if you're combating cold symptoms.
Anyway, growing garlic is fairly easy if you grow the right variety for your climate. There are two types, hardneck and softneck. Hardneck garlic grows a long stem and produces scapes at the tip of the stem, which eventually flowers.
Hardnecks have less cloves but are said to have more flavor than softnecks, and they are also easier to peel. They don't store for as long as softnecks, but they store long enough to last during off season. So if you live in a cold climate, hardneck is the variety for you.
If you're in the south like me, softneck garlic is the variety that will thrive as they do not do well in colder climates. If stored properly, they'll last for almost a year. Unlike hardnecks, the don't produce scapes and the stalks are soft making them easy to twist or braid. I like to braid mine and hang them in the garage to dry which normally takes about 2-3 weeks.
Hardnecks produce a larger number of cloves than softnecks, and clove size can differ on a single bulb.
Plant garlic in the fall before your first frost. This gives them time to establish a root system before the frost comes. This year, I planted garlic before and after since my frost wasn't too bad. Thank Gaia for that. Separate the cloves from the bulb, but don't peel the garlic. That protection is needed to keep the garlic from rotting. So leave each clove in tact.
Be sure to bury each clove at least 3 inches into the soil, at least 4"-5" inches apart, and use mulch to protect them. I use EZ Straw, which seems to work pretty well.
After mulching, give it a good watering and you're done.If you notice shoots popping up "too soon", that's perfectly ok. Chances are they will die back and sprout again in spring. Garlic takes about 8-9 months to mature, so they'll be ready to harvest in early summer. You'll know when to harvest because the bottom leaves will be yellow/brown.
I managed to plant close to 80 cloves of garlic this year. It's the most garlic I've ever planted. My plan is to make my own garlic powder. We'll see how that goes, so be sure to check back in early summer for an update.