I had heard stories about how the Garlic Capitl of the world, Gilroy, CA, smells like garlic for miles around, but I didn't get the scope of it until I drove through there this past spring. I get it now. It's not exactly unleasant, and I'm pretty sure you would get used to it if you lived there, but wow, it was pervasive.
When I got home, the garlic I had planted last fall was just poking up through the ground. It grew and developed its 'scapes,' those curly-q stems that eventually will form the flower if you don't cut them off like I did. I chopped them and threw them in a stir-fry, and wished I had more. I waited until about July to finally dig up my bulbs, and they were perfect. We eat a lot of garlic in our house, so the crop didn't last for long, so this year, I'm going to plant more.
Planting garlic is really easy. You can plant enough for several months in a 10 square foot area, and all you need are some garlic bulbs from the market, though fancier garlic is available at garden centers. Break them apart into individual cloves, and plant them about eight inches apart in every direction, buying them about two inches down. They may sprout this fall, and that's fine. Mulch the sprouts with eelgrass, pine needles or straw. In the spring, pull the mulch back to let the sprouts take off and let give your plants a good shot of organic fertilizer like fish emulsion. And that's it. I always heard that you have to cut the scapes off, but I think that's hooey. I've left them on and had a good harvest.
October 10th is the suggested time to plant garlic in our area, though here on Nantucket we have more leeway to plant later. While I don't want to compete with Gilroy, maybe we can get enough garlic planted this year to have our own garlic festival. Who's in?