Planting Ahead

To get the most bang for your buck, plant garlic bulbs in the fall before the ground freezes for best return.

Credit: Netherlands Flower Bulbs

There’s no surer way to enjoy future dividends than by tucking in some garlic now for 2012.

While most gardeners choose hardneck garlic over soft, both yield fantastic returns. One softneck clove planted in fall equals a sturdy bulb of up to 24 cloves. And each hardneck clove can multiply into 12, with the added bonus of a scape – the curly stem that leads to the newly developing seedhead – that can be snapped off in early summer for salads and stirfries.

Plan to plant garlic in the fall before the ground gets too hard: purchase it from your local nursery or buy organic (to ensure it is not treated with sprouting inhibitors), gently separate bulbs into cloves (unpeeled) and place 10 cm (2 in.) down and 40 cm (8 in.) apart with the pointy tip up. Don’t bother with the smallest cloves – save those for dinner. Big cloves grow into big bulbs and provide the best return for your efforts.