An easy way to grow garlic involves selecting the right type of garlic for the region, planting it in proper soil conditions at the right time and providing adequate water, mulch and fertilizer. While garlic can be grown from store-bought cloves, such cloves may not grow as well as those directly from a nursery.
Two main types of garlic available from nurseries grow well and produce good results: stiffneck and softneck. Stiffneck varieties are much more cold-hardy, but do not store as well as softneck. These also have a milder flavor. Softneck garlic tolerates warmer weather better than stiffneck. The cloves store well, and often are seen with braided tops. Gardeners in warmer planting zones typically have better results with softneck varieties.
Garlic prefers fertile, well-drained soil that has not had garlic planted there in the past. The bulbs need full sun and a slightly acidic to neutral soil pH. For best results, plant garlic bulbs in the fall, overwinter them and begin caring for them again in the spring. This gives garlic the best flavor and production results. Plant bulbs by pushing them into the soil at a depth of 1 to 2 inches. Space bulbs about 4 to 6 inches apart, and leave 12 inches between rows.
Keep planted garlic moist, but not wet. In the fall, layer mulch over the bulbs as freezing weather approaches. Northern gardeners may need a heavy layer of mulch. In the spring, nitrogen-rich fertilizer should be added, and mulch should be replenished to combat weeds and moisture loss. Harvest garlic from mid-July to early August.