If you want to grow garlic, start by thinking of it like a bulb. Unlike most vegetables, the best time to plant garlic is in the fall (even though many seed catalogs will sell it in spring). Ideally, get it in the ground right after your area's first killing frost (this may be from late September to November or even December, depending on where you live). After you plant it, garlic will develop a healthy root system in the cool soil. It goes dormant over winter and waits to send up leafy shoots in the spring.
Like most vegetables, garlic prefers a spot in full sun and moist but well-drained soil. The plant likes lots of organic matter, so it's really helpful to amend your ground each year with lots of compost. Plant individual garlic cloves about 1 inch deep and about 6 inches apart. Plant them with the pointy side facing up.
Editors' Tip: For best results, separate the cloves from the bulb at planting time. Don't separate them beforehand.
After planting your garlic, spread a couple of inches of mulch over this soil. This will help prevent injury to the plants from sudden cold spells in fall or spring. Mulch will also deter weeds in spring and help the soil conserve moisture.