Garlic is a staple in cuisine in nearly every corner of the globe. The pungent flavor and many health benefits of garlic make it a guilt-free addition to your recipes. Growing your own garlic from clove starters requires a bit of preparation but pays off with a relatively maintenance-free plant. Purchase an extra head of garlic at the market and propagate your own heads of garlic from each clove.
Plant garlic in the fall to produce the largest bulbs. Time your planting so the roots have time to develop before the first frost but the plant won't break the surface of the soil. The middle of October is generally a good time to start your garlic.
Choose a location with full sun and well-drained soil to start your garlic. Garlic needs those conditions to produce large bulbs. Plant garlic in a raised bed if possible, and avoid areas near shade trees.
Incorporate compost into the top 4 to 6 inches of soil with a garden shovel. Dig a hole 2 inches deep and place a small handful of bonemeal in the bottom of the hole. This will ensure adequate soil drainage and prevent your starter cloves from rotting in the ground.
Separate your head of garlic into individual cloves, leaving the peels intact. Select the largest cloves to plant in your garden.
Hold the clove upright in the hole with the pointy end facing up. Fill in around the clove with the removed soil and compost mixture until the tip of the clove is just under the surface of the soil. Repeat for each clove you plant, spacing the starters about 5 inches apart.
Apply a 4-inch layer of mulch in the fall before the first freeze to protect your garlic through the winter. Water your garlic during dry spells to maintain an even moisture level. Apply a liquid fertilizer diluted to half strength once a month once the garlic begins to grow again in spring.
Harvest the garlic bulbs when you notice the leaves turning a yellow or brown color. For garlic planted in the fall, this should occur the following August. Set aside a few fresh bulbs for immediate use in the kitchen and rinse the remaining garlic. Set the heads out in a sunny location to dry out for later use.