Late October and early November is the time to plant garlic here in Madison, WI. Garlic is probably the last thing that most gardeners will plant in a season. Before the ground freezes individual cloves, as seen above, are planted about 5-6inches deep in loose garden soil. Before it gets too cold, the garlic clove will put down a few roots. Then it will remain dormant until the ground thaws in early spring. At that point a strong green shoot will emerge. The garlic plant will grow into late July when it is ready for harvest.
There are two types of garlic: Hardneck and Softneck. Softneck is what is often sold in stores and is primarily grown in warmer regions. A 'head' of softneck garlic is characterized by a ring of larger cloves near the outside and increasingly smaller cloves as you near the middle of the head. Hardneck is more adapted to cold conditions and is characterized by large cloves circling a single hard middle stem.
Here are simple instructions for planting:
Loosen garden soil to a depth of 8 inches.
Obtain hardneck garlic heads from a local grower or store. Stay away from store bought softneck garlic. It is often treated with chemicals that will stop it from sprouting.
Break each head of garlic into individual cloves.
4. Prepare a 6 inch deep trench in garden and lay out individual garlic cloves every 5-6inches. (*If planting in a smaller area, space cloves 6in apart in a checkerboard design)
5. Push cloves into soil with pointed tip facing up. Then cover with soil. (*Tip should be 2-3inches below surface after covered)
6. (OPTIONAL) Some growers prefer to mulch garlic with 2-3in of straw/hay after planting.
*You can use tree leaves as mulch also. Make sure you grind them up with a lawnmower first and limit to a depth of less than one inch.
That is it.. Garlic is pretty easy and multiplies quickly. Each individual clove you plant will grow into an entire head by next July. We will get into harvest and storage next summer. Good Luck!