Love Italian or Asian food? Then you probably love garlic. It's been adding its distinctive flavor to those cuisines for centuries. Now garlic has become very popular in American recipes, and growing your own will supply you with nice fresh cloves to season your cooking.
Garlic grows best during cool weather and stops in temperatures above 90 degrees. Plant it in the fall, around the first frost date, to mature the following summer. In warm-winter areas, you can plant until January. In cool climates, you can also plant in spring as soon as the soil is workable, but you'll get smaller bulbs.
Garlic tends to rot in poorly drained soils, so plant in raised beds or in well-drained soil amended with compost or other organic matter, such as Miracle-Gro® Organic Choice® Garden Soil. Set individual cloves pointy side up, 2-3 inches deep, and 6 inches apart in rows 1-2 feet apart.
Water your garlic to provide regular moisture and apply water-soluble plant food, such as Miracle-Gro® Water Soluble All Purpose Plant Food, once a week until the foliage starts to turn brown before harvest.
When half the garlic leaves begin to yellow and wilt, stop watering and push the plant tops over. Let the bulbs cure in the ground like this for a week. Then dig the bulbs up and hang them for a week or two in a dry, shady location with good air circulation.Once they're dry, trim off the tops and roots and store the bulbs in mesh bags in a cool place (40-50 degrees).
It's been said that garlic has medicinal qualities such as fighting colds, lowering cholesterol, decreasing blood sugar levels, and more. The jury's still out on some of these claims, but many people swear by garlic as a home remedy. It's certainly very good at making food taste better.