Garlic is an important, some might argue crucial, ingredient for any kitchen. Added to soups, stir fries, and pastas, or chopped up for garlic bread, this herb is hard to beat as the most versatile member of the kitchen. Fortunately, for the culinary enthusiast, garlic is easy to grow. A small kitchen garden or a few pots on the porch are all it takes to grow your own garlic. Pick up a few extra cloves next time you are at the grocery store to start your own garlic patch at home.
Separate the cloves from a head of garlic. Be careful to break the cloves away cleanly from the round foot at the bottom. Each clove should have an undamaged imprint where it attached to the base of the clove.
Separate the large cloves from the smaller ones. Plant the larger ones and set the smaller ones aside to use in cooking. Plant garlic in the fall 1 to 2 weeks after the first frost in your area.
Clear any weeds from your garden bed and turn over the soil with a garden fork or shovel. Mix the soil with rich compost and smooth it out with a rake.
Hollow out a 2 to 3 inch deep hole for each clove of garlic you intend to plant. The planting holes should be 6 to 8 inches apart in rows that are spaced 8 to 10 inches apart.
Place one clove of garlic in each hole. Plant the garlic so that the pointed end is up and the imprint where it came off the base of the clove is down. Cover it with soil and pat down the area firmly.
Water the area until the soil is damp to a depth of 2 inches. You can test the moisture in the soil by sticking your index finger into the earth.
Water once a week throughout the growing season, making sure that the soil is saturated to a depth of 2 inches at each watering.
Cut the scapes off in the spring. The scape is the garlic flower, it emerges and curls twice. Cutting it off encourages the plant to put all of its energy into the garlic head. The scapes are delicious sautéed in butter or added to spring vegetable stir-fry dishes.
Stop watering in late spring two weeks before the harvest. This will give the cloves time to ripen and mature before the summer harvest. Too much water late in the growing season can cause the heads to split or loose flavor.
Dig up your garlic with a small trowel, being careful not to damage the bulb. Cold northern climates will have a later harvest than warmer southern climates. Early harvests occur in June while late harvests occur at the end of August and early September. To test the maturity of your garlic crop, dig up a single head and inspect it for size and maturity.