Garlic graces King Tut's tomb, wards off the evils of demons and vampires, and even benefits health with its antioxidant and antibacterial properties. Garlic (Allium sativum) growing in bulbs with layers of pointed cloves, is classified by two types--hard neck and soft neck. There are hundreds of garlic varieties, including white, pink and yellow, which can be stored from four months to one year. Milder varieties, such as yellow, offer a less pungent garlic flavor.
Growing garlic takes patience. From planting to harvest, it takes at least nine months to produce edible garlic bulbs. Fall planting gives bulbs the required 40 days or more of 40 degree or lower temperatures in order for the cloves to split and become bulbs. For spring planting, cloves need six weeks of storage in a refrigerator set below 40 degrees.
Room to Grow
Garlic cloves should be planted 3 to 5 inches apart, in rows that are spaced at least 18 to 24 inches apart. Charlie's Gourmet Garlic Farm recommends allowing 6 to 8 inches between cloves to produce the largest bulbs possible.
The Right Soil
Yellow garlic thrives in loose, nutrient rich soil with a pH level of 6.0 to 7.0 that offers good drainage. Heavier clay soils can cause bulbs to become misshapen. If your soil is too heavy, work in equal parts sand and compost to loosen up the consistency. Garlic requires more fertilization than most plants and will benefit from 1 to 2 pounds of 10-10-10 fertilizer per 100 square feet worked into the soil before planting. Choose a location that is not easily flooded during rainy spells and that also offers partial shade to provide the best growth opportunity.
Planting Yellow Garlic Cloves
Yellow garlic bulbs need to be split into individual cloves before planting. Each clove should be placed at least 1 inch below the soil, with the pointed end facing upward. Cover the cloves lightly with soil, then apply a thin layer of nitrogen-rich compost or fertilizer in a circle around the area where the clove is planted. When planting yellow garlic in the fall, apply a layer of straw mulch 4 to 6 inches deep over each clove to prevent damage from extreme cold during the winter months. When spring arrives, mulch should be pushed aside to allow the foliage to grow properly.
Watering Yellow Garlic Plants
Yellow garlic needs moderate moisture in order to flourish after the winter months. Water garlic when the soil is dry, during the spring, with an inch of water per week during dry spells to maintain proper hydration. Watering should cease in July to allow the foliage to die off before harvest.
Feeding Yellow Garlic
Yellow garlic needs to be fed in order to produce healthy bulbs. In addition to the fertilizer applied during planting, another pound per 100 feet should be applied one month later, in bands 3 to 4 inches from the plant base. Nitrogen rich liquid fertilizer sprayed on foliage will encourage rapid leaf and bulb growth when applied every two to three weeks, starting in late winter when foliage emerges.
Harvesting Yellow Garlic
Between late July and September, when foliage starts to die off and leaves begin to turn yellow and brown, it's time to harvest garlic bulbs. Gently dig up bulbs and remove excess soil, then place harvested garlic in a shaded, ventilated area for two to three weeks. Foliage can be removed, an inch above the bulb, or used for braiding after drying spell. Garlic should be stored at 65 to 75 degrees in a dark location and away from moisture, such as around the sink or dishwasher area.