Planting your garlic: you have planned and purchased seed of the variety you wish to grow.
Step 1: prepare your plot. You need a plot with cultivation rows that are wide enough to work from both sides, with alleys between rows to allow for weeding and harvesting.
Step 2: Your rows need to have good fertile soil which is usually achieved by applying compost and organic fertilisers. You can use compost which you made or purchase it. The soil should be prepared well in advance so that the soil fauna has multiplied and will keep your soil balanced. You should take soil samples and have them tested to ensure they have the nutrients that garlic prefers and a suitable pH level. All deficiency should be corrected before planting.
Most garlic growers apply liberal amounts of compost to enrich the soil and increase organic matter to ensure the soil retains moisture.
Step 3: It is said that the best time to plant is on the new moon.
Cracking your garlic bulbs: you need to open the bulbs to release the cloves which will be planted. Once cracked select your largest cloves for planting (usually 7 or 8 largeer cloves around the perimeter). Cracking should be done just before planting. Bulbs should be cracked just before the clove shoots actually emerge from the cloves.
Small cloves will usually produce small bulbs for next year. Very small cloves will either die because they were too small or produce a single clove bulb which will produce a good bulb if cured and planted again next year (this is good for seed of unusual varieties where you are dealing in small amounts of planting material). Very small bulbs are not worth planting as part of a commercial crop: it takes just as much effort and resources to produce a small bulb as it does to produce a large one, but there are few rewards for small bulbs.
Some growers soak their cloves in seaweed emulsion (Seasol for example) overnight after cracking and before planting.
Step 4: Plant your cloves. If your area has very heavy frosts, then plant you cloves below the surface to avoid damage from the cold. If your frosts are moderate you can just lie the cloves on the ground and let them sprout. Garlic is very forgiving in this respect. In light soils, production may be better if the garlic is planted deep: up to 6 inches, deep planting is not recommended for heavy soils.
Step 5: Cover your crop with mulch. Many in the Co-op use rice straw which has several advantages like: it is not palatable to animals; does not hold water (it rarely gets sodden, when it rains the rice straw remains intact and does not break down during the growing period). The mulch needs to be 'fluffed' and then laid in a deep layer over the garlic. It is always surprising when the new green shoots penetrate the tangle.
Step 6: Water need not be applied until the shoots sprout. You may like to spread mineral dust to ensure balance in your soil (boron is good). Some also feed a complete fertiliser at this stage.
This timeline may assist you to plan your year:
Timeline developed by Gilles Bonin and others
Your next step is MAINTENANCE