Didn’t get garlic in the ground last fall? 

That’s OK! In most climates, there's a short window for planting in spring for fall harvest.  

Or harvest it as spring garlic. With its small single bulb and green stalk, spring garlic resembles a scallion. It delivers a milder flavor that’s still distinctly garlicky, and it can be used in the same way as garlic cloves or eaten raw in salads. Spring garlic takes much less time to mature and is typically ready for harvest about six weeks after planting. 

If you are planting garlic in the spring to harvest as bulbs in the fall, remember that garlic needs exposure to cold in order to promote bulb formation when the weather gets warm. Most of the plant’s growth happens in cooler weather. Once day length reaches about 13 hours, the garlic bulbs will begin to form, so it’s essential to give your garlic the longest possible head start. (Soil and air temperatures also play a role in bulb formation.) 

Sow spring garlic in late winter/early spring, well before last spring frost, when the frozen ground has thawed and is dry enough to be worked.  when frost is out of the ground and the soil is dry enough to work.  

Storing the garlic in the fridge for a couple of weeks prior to planting can also help, as the cold treatment gets the cloves rooting as quickly as possible. (It's OK to plant cloves that show some root emergence, although planting such sprouted cloves does require extra care.)   

Applying a thick organic mulch once the cloves have sprouted can also help, as this cools the soil a bit and allows the plants more growing time.  

Be sure to give spring-planted garlic the richest possible soil, as every day counts when growing in spring! Whether planted in late fall or early spring, garlic is ready to harvest in mid- to late summer. Keep an eye on the garlic leaves, and when about half of them have turned brown, check to see if the bulbs are ready. Also, hardneck garlic will form scapes about four to six weeks before the bulbs are mature. 

For more growing info on garlic, see our post How to Plant and Harvest Your Best Garlic Crop.