We tried growing garlic for the first time this year. Since we've never had any luck in our garden beds with things that grow underground, we started by planting just 6 cloves. We planted at the end of October 08 in one of our raised beds, and added a good amount of worm compost when we planted. We also put a layer of fallen leaves on top of the bed. As soon as the ground thawed this Spring, we could see garlic coming up. Two of the cloves didn't take - and one was growing much more slowly than the others, so we removed it about a month ago. Last night, we went out and pulled up our remaining three bulbs - and here they are. For first time garlic, I think they look awesome!
We have a few tips and tricks for growing garlic, that we've picked up from fellow gardeners and farmers. If you live in New England, plant your garlic in October or early November, when it gets cold enough out that you won't have it starting to sprout in the Fall - you want it to hold out until Spring. Once your garlic starts making scapes in Summer, cut the scapes to use for cooking once they've made a complete loop around. Leave one scape growing, as legend has it that when the scape begins to grow straight up into the air, the garlic in your bed is ready for harvest.
Since we only have 3 bulbs in this year's harvest, we've cut the stalks and roots, and have the fresh garlic in the refrigerator - we're not going to dry it but will instead use it up over the next few weeks. If you're going to dry your garlic, make sure you do so somewhere where it won't be in the sun.
Several people have told us that they save their biggest home-grown garlic bulbs each year for planting instead of eating. If you do this, you'll end up with garlic that has "evolved" to suit your particular soil and growing conditions. This October, we're going to plant many more cloves than we did in 08, so (if all goes well) our harvest will be much larger and we can save some of our stock for planting. All good!