The bulbs you find in the grocery store will produce a fine crop of garlic. Since the plants will do most of their growing in cool weather, it's a good idea to plant in late summer or early fall and mulch the plants over in winter.
Planting and Maintenance
Break each bulb into individual cloves, and plant the cloves 3-4 inches apart, pointed end up. Give them two or three sidedressings with manure or fertilizer during the season. The soil around them should be kept loose and moist.
When the tops fall over and die, pull up the bulbs. Let them dry in the sun for a few days, then braid the tops together or place them in a net bag. Hanging them in an airy location will help prevent rot. Peeled garlic cloves may be stored in a jar of oil. The garlic retains it's flavor and the oil will add flavor to salad dressings.
Insects and Disease
Thripes are tiny insects that feed on leaves and cause white, blotchy areas. The plants weaken and the yield is reduced. Keep weeds out of the garden to eliminate alternate hosts. A blast of cold water will remove thripes from plants. Soap-Shield and diatomaceous earth may be effective.
Growing and Using Garlic
For the true garlic lover, there are never too many ways to enjoy this savory, aromatic and healthful herb. Garlics sweet, pungent flavor is extremely versatile and lends excitement to just about any dish. And best of all, its easy to grow garlic in your own garden!
The onion maggot is the offspring of a small fly that lays eggs near the base of the plant or on the bulb itself. The maggots kill the plant by burrowing into the stem and bulb. Pull up and destroy any plants before the maggots mature into flies. You may also try making tarpaper collars around the plants. Wood ashes, rock phosphate, or diatomaceous earth sprinkled around the base of the plant is said to be effective.
Neck rot is the most common problem. It strikes just after harvest or while the bulbs are in storage. Drying the bulbs at warm temperatures with good ventilation and storing in a cool, airy spot will help prevent the disease.
Garlic as a Companion Plant
Garlic helps deter Japanese beetles, and it makes a great companion for roses and raspberries. For more information about companions, consult the Herb Companion Chart and the Vegetable Companion Chart.
Garlic has been used throughout the ages to ward off disease, and has saved many lives in epidemics of infectious diseases. It is antibacterial and gives protection against colds and flu. Garlic improves circulation and lowers blood pressure. It proven in controlled clinical studies to reduce cholesterol levels. Further studies indicate that garlic may have a positive role in the prevention of coronary heart disease, thrombosis and arteriosclerosis. It may even offer some degree of protection against cancer.
For some great cooking tips, read Glorious Garlic.