Garlic is pretty easy to grow, actually. I'll post a picture tutorial for growing garlic when it's time to plant, but here's the long and short of it: plant in the fall, usually any time in October or even early November before the ground freezes. Poke individual cloves into the ground as far as you can with your index finger (3" or so into the soil), making sure the pointy end is up and the blunt edge is down, about 8-10" apart from each other. Most garlic growing instructions tell you to cover the ground with a light layer of mulch to protect from snow and hard freezing temps over the winter, but we didn't bother to do this at Crestwood and you will see below how well our garlic turned out, even after the harsh winter of 2013/2014, so I would say the mulch is optional. That's pretty much it until late spring/early summer, when neck varieties send up a scape, a long curly stem that will eventually turn into a flower. Because you want the plant's energy to go into the bulb, snap off the scapes (they are edible and can be used in place of bulb garlic in cooking) and leave the plant until the tips of the leaves start to turn brown and curl up. Then you know it's time to harvest!
To harvest garlic, just loosen the soil and gently pull the whole plant out of the ground. If you dig too aggressively with a shovel or pitchfork, you risk stabbing or slicing the bulbs, and then they won't keep for long. (When I was digging up the garlic, I did accidentally stab a couple of them with the pitchfork, so I brought them home for us to eat this week.) It's nice if you can harvest the plants dry, so don't water them for a week before you dig them up, though if it rains it's not the end of the world. Leave the whole plant intact and let it dry out for a few weeks; this is call curing, and healthy, cured garlic will keep for several weeks or months, depending on the variety.
Friday afternoon we harvested nearly three dozen heads of garlic, all of them plump and gorgeous. How about some before and after pictures?
Here is a little bed of garlic from the back plot. Yes, the back garden, where not even the weeds will grow, produced some of the nicest garlic I've seen. Why did it turn out so well? Probably because when Margie planted it, she dumped a huge load of compost right over the bulbs, so they had especially nice soil.
When I was digging up the garlic, I did accidentally stab a couple of them with the pitchfork; those won't store, so I had to bring them home. The rest are curing in the shed, so now of course the shed smells strongly of garlic, but I tell you this much, it sure beats the heck out of chicken poo!!