Garlic has been grown in the home garden for use as a food and medicine and for religious purposes for thousands of years. Most commercially grown garlic is a soft-neck variety, but home gardeners experimenting with hard-neck varieties will discover many variations of flavor. Some of these varieties produce a topset that appears to be a miniature garlic head. These topsets can be eaten for a more subtle garlic flavor. Italian Silver Skin and Rocambole garlic are hard-neck varieties that do well in Oregon. Commercially grown Silver, California Early and California Late also thrive in Oregon gardens.
Plant garlic in the fall. October is the best planting month in most parts of Oregon. Separate the cloves into individual bulbs one or two days before planting.
Prepare a location with well-drained soil. Dig or till the soil with a trowel to loosen it. Most locations in Oregon have acidic soil and need lime added to adjust the pH to 6.5 to 7.0. Mix in 1 to 2 lbs. of 10-10-10 fertilizer per 100 feet of row.
Plant the bulbs 2 inches deep, pointed end up, approximately 4 to 6 inches apart. Cover the row with a 3- to 4-inch layer of organic mulch. Pull or hoe weeds as soon as they appear.
Water the bulbs regularly beginning in the spring. Stop watering two weeks before harvest. Give approximately 1/2 inch of water twice a week.
Fertilize again three to four weeks after the plants sprout. Apply 1 lb. of 10-10-10 fertilizer about 4 inches to the side of a 100-foot row.
Check the bulbs for maturity beginning in late June in Oregon. Harvest cloves when the head contains fully developed cloves covered in a dry, papery skin. Cloves left in the ground too long will split and be hard to harvest.
Harvest bulbs by digging them up, slicing the roots below each bulb with the trowel or a sharp knife. Garlic roots grow deep, making it difficult to pull up the bulbs.
Dry the bulbs in a warm, dry area. Remove the roots and trim the tops or braid the bulbs.