I’ve been going through the garlic I harvested in July. Damaged or diseased bulbs are salvaged for immediate use in salsa, sauted with lots of butter and frozen in small lumps for a quick addition into just about everything, or cut and dehydrated for garlic powder( thanks Suzanne Capone!) or if they are really bad, discarded. The best heads become your planting stock. Small heads can be set aside for cooking or planted for garlic scallions.
Now is the time- early to mid October-to plant. You want the bulbs to put on enough root and leaf growth before bulbs start to form, but not so much that they are prone to frost damage. Bulb formation starts as soon as daylight exceeds 13 hours. Getting off to a good start in the fall is key to having nice bulbs. Garlic likes lots of organic matter, adequate P and K and 30-60# of actual N per acre. Use the handy fertilizer calculator to figure what to add to your beds. http://independencefarmersmarket.org/2018/01/fertilizer-calculator/
Take your biggest heads and separate the cloves. It’s okay if the skin comes off. If you’ve had disease problems you can use a pre-plant treatment. Mites have been my problem. I soak the cloves overnight in water with 1 Tablespoon baking soda and 1 teaspoon maxicrop powder per gallon. Drain the cloves right before planting and put in rubbing alcohol for 3-5 minutes. Then plant.
Plant garlic 3 rows to the bed with 6-10 inches in the row. I usually go with an 8″ spacing. Elephant garlic needs more room: 2 rows per bed and 10-12 in the row. Make sure you have 3-4 inches of soil above the top of the clove and be sure to plant point up. It can effect yield by 30%! If you have lots of very small cloves, plant them about 1 inch apart and grow garlic scallions! regardless of the variety, cover with 4-6 inches of straw. Once you notice the leaves poking up, you may need to help them get through the mulch. Add some blood meal in the spring when leaves start to grow. More about that later.
Need more information? Check out Pam Dawling’s great slide show here https://www.sustainablemarketfarming.com/2016/03/21/garlic-slide-show-mother-earth-news-fair-louisa-backyard-gardeners-workshops-seeds-germinating/