Garlic grows best when the bulbs are planted in the fall and harvested in spring or summer. Growing garlic is easy. There are hundreds of varieties to choose from including those with mild flavors and ones with a strong, pungent taste. Garlic divides into two groups, hardneck and softneck. The neck refers to the stalk that grows above ground. Softneck varieties grow well in climates with warmer winters and store longer than hardneck garlic. The tops of softneck type garlic can be braided for decorative hanging.
Select a planting area that receives full sun. Loosen the soil down about 6 inches. Mixing in a small amount of compost provides additional nutrition to the plant, although it is not essential for successful garlic growing.
The night before planting, break the bulb into individual cloves and soak overnight in water containing a tablespoon of baking soda per gallon of water. You may add a tablespoon of liquid seaweed, if desired. Soak until the paper cover loosens from the clove. Just before planting, place the clove in rubbing alcohol for three to five minutes to protect it from soil pathogens. Place the clove bottom, or flat side, down at a depth of 2 inches in areas with warm winter climates, 3 inches in the middle-part of the United States and 4 inches in the northern most states. Plant cloves 4 to 6 inches apart.
Do not let the soil around the garlic dry out completely. Check the area around the bulb and, if dry, add supplemental water. Add a small amount of compost in early spring. Harvest the garlic when the lower leaves die, usually in late spring or early summer. A week before harvesting, do not water. Dig gently around the plant until you see the blub. Loosen soil completely around the plant and use a trowel or pull gently to remove the bulb from the soil. Store garlic in a dry location away from sunlight.