Garlic's natural cycle is to be planted outside in the fall and to be harvested the following spring or summer, depending on variety.
Garlic can be planted in the spring and might mature ok, but fall planting usually gets better results.
You can plant garlic anytime in the fall but early October is usually the best time. Plant garlic in a sunny part of your garden where garlic has not been grown for at least three years - garlic grows best in soils where crops have been rotated. Work up and loosen top six inches of fertile garden soil.
Plant the individual cloves, bottom (root) end down, with the bottom of the clove being 2" deep in the South, 3" in most of the USA and 4" deep in the Northernmost states and planted six inches apart from each other. Lay a few inches of organic mulch (grass and leaves) over them and water as needed. In the South it will come up and grow almost immediately, but in the North it will not emerge until spring.
While garlic doesn’t need much fertilizer, a little organic compost in the early spring helps. Water weekly or as needed to keep the roots from drying out. You can check by putting your hand down in the soil to bulb depth and if your fingers come out wet, don't water, but if they're dry, water. Since garlic's roots are on its bottom, you can carefully dig down and look at the bulb area to see how they are developing occasionally.
In the spring hardneck varieties send up a stalk called a scape that will develop a bulbil capsule. If you cut the scape before it fully forms, the bulb will grow a little bigger; if not, it will store a little longer.
Harvest in spring/summer when all the lower leaves have died down and only the top five or six leaves remain green. Dig them up carefully, avoiding damage to the bulb. Remove to a dry shady location for a month or so until the necks dry down completely and can be cut without a garlicky smell - then trim off leaves and roots. Most good garlic will store five or six months at room temperature out of direct sunlight.
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