Firs of all, welcome to the forum.
I've heard other people talk of garlic seeds
, but I've never seen them. I grow garlic from the cloves. One clove will produce a whole head of garlic. Actually, it is almost time to harvest fresh garlic now. It is recommended that you buy your garlic from a local farmers market. That way you will get garlic that is acclimated to your growing
conditions. It's ok to buy speciality garlic from a catalog too. I wouldn't recommend using a clove from the grocery store. Those are grown for storability not taste.
If you want to grow garlic, you have to decide between stiff neck and soft neck. The stiff neck are supposed to have better flavor, and they are easier to peel, but they don't keep as well. The garlic braids are made with soft neck garlic, and you can find good flavor in a softneck. Take your garlic bulbs, and break them up. Don't peel them, but in the case of hard neck garlics the peel may come off, and that's ok. Pick out the largest cloves for your garden. The best time to plant
garlic depends on your growing zone
. Think just before the ground is too cold to work. In zone
5, I try to get my garlic in the ground by October.
Ideal soil is rich in organic matter, well draining loam. Push the cloves into the ground by 2-3 times their height, space them 4-6 inches apart in rows that are 1-1.5 feet apart. Mulching is optional, and again dependant on your growing zone
. Then all you have to do is wait.
Garlic is very winter hardy. Last year we had a warm up in December, and my garlic sprouted prematurely. The sprouts were killed later by snow. They sprouted again in early spring
. Garlic is usually the first thing to appear in the garden. Keep it weeded and watered until the scape (curling looking flower
stalk, but instead of flowers
it has mini garlic cloves) appears. Common practice is to remove the scape to concentrate on growing
the bulb bigger. There is debate on when to remove the scape. I remove the scape once it stands straight up.
Harvest the garlic once there are only 3-4 set of green leaves on top. The bottom leaves=outer wrapper, and these will probably come off during cleaning. The green leaves=the wrapper that you are used to seeing in the store. Cure the garlic by hanging it in a hot dry place for about 2 weeks. Clean the garlic by cutting the roots off, removing any decayed skins, and cut off the tops.
It sounds like a lot of work, but fresh garlic is sooo much better than store bought, and so worth it. You usually only need 1/3 - 1/2 of fresh garlic vs store bought for the same strength.
I've got over 50 plants
that I need to cut the scapes off of. BTW, the scapes and the bulb-letts are edible. Another month, and I'll be digging those bad boys up. I can't wait!