... for planting garlic! At least, for me anyway! I still don't know the exact planting date to aim for - every gardener, every gardening book, every website has something different to say regarding when to plant garlic - anywhere from 6 weeks before the last date of frost (which would end up being the being the beginning of September for our area) to the shortest day of the year (December 21). Of course, what zone you live in plays a key role in determining when to plant. So, I've been keeping track of my planting dates each year, and earlier does seem to make a difference in the size of the mature garlic bulb. It's often not an option for me to plant in September because there's usually something still growing in the spot I plan to plant garlic for the following year's harvest. And, even if I aim for a date, it's usually at least two weeks after that that I actually get around to it. This year I procrastinated, because I just wasn't sure where I wanted to plant based on next year's garden layout (which I haven't figured out yet!). And, I wasn't sure which of my various garden boxes would give it the ideal growing conditions. (Am I wearing you out yet?! Gardening isn't meant to be difficult, but I have a tendency to make it more complicated than it needs to be because I so want everything to turn out well....) Anyway, a friend's husband said Columbus Day (October 8) is a good time to plant for this area, and I think he's probably right.
Except for knowing when to plant it, I think growing garlic is the coolest thing. And, once you start growing your own garlic, if you plant enough the first year and save enough bulbs for the fall planting, you never need to buy garlic again! (How's that for a deal?!) I intentionally planted enough last year so that I would have some extra to share with other gardening friends, so they in turn could start their own garlic crops and become sustainable garlic growers too. Most commercial garlic is imported from China and has been infested with who-knows what and who-knows-how-many chemicals, so growing your own garlic or at least buying local garlic is a very, very good thing, not to mention a flavorful endeavor!
separate them into cloves, then plant the cloves 1-2" deep with the pointed end facing up. I use the square-foot gardening method and plant 9 cloves per square. They behave similar to a spring-flowering bulb - they get planted in the fall, get a start on their growing if they are planted early enough, they take a rest over the winter, then send up their green stalks in the spring, then send up their lovely flowers (otherwise known as garlic scapes) sometime in June, and the garlic bulbs are harvested shortly after that (when about 1/3 of the foliage has turned brown).
In addition to anticipating an abundant garlic crop next year, I'm also looking forward to trying out some more garlic-scape recipes in June!