Growing garlic in Wisconsin, means I need to plant my garlic cloves during September or October to allow the cloves to produce a root system.
They will start to grow green tops before winter but stop growing as the frost arrives.
Choose a Spot in Full Sun to Plant & Prepare Soil
Before planting chose a spot that receives full sun and work plenty of rich organic material into a heavy clay soil.
I have learned over the course of the years that heavy soil produces funny shaped garlic. Clay soil makes the cloves work hard to grow, producing smaller, odd shaped bulbs.
Taking the extra time to loosen and add organic material into my soil produces better crops in my garden.
How Deep to Plant Cloves & Far Apart to Plant
Plant the clove 1-2 inches deep in areas with mild winters. In my case I need to plant mine 3-4 inches deep with harsh winters.
Spacing each planted clove 6 inches apart with 12 inches between rows.
Spread a layer of straw over the planted area and water well. Make sure the cloves stay moist until frost sets in.
In the spring make sure the cloves stay moist. Remove most of mulch. Fertilize in early spring.
In the summer when the leaves start to yellow hold off on watering to prevent rot.
When and How to Harvest
1.) Bulbs are ready to harvest when half or better of the leaves are yellow and fall over. Lift them out of the soil using a pitch fork.
2.) Brush away all the soil on the bulb leaving the bottom roots intact.
3.) Lay the garlic out in a shaded area for 2 weeks to let it dry out. The outer layer will feel dry and papery.
4.) Cut of the stem leaving a 1/2 inch stem and store in a mesh bag. I purchased a small mesh laundry bag at the store. You could also recycle old nylon stockings too.
Garlic is one of the easiest vegetables to grow. It just takes time and patience. Planning ahead and planting a fall crop will produce a summer harvest.