Prepare the garlic bed now. Loosen the soil and amend with compost.
Select: Grow a variety of hardneck garlic, which tends to be the hardiest in our area and the tastiest. It usually has 5-8 cloves around a hard stem. Soft neck has the cloves all the way through. Garlic from the grocery store is usually a softneck variety. Garlic from local growers is probably hardneck. Ask when you buy.
Plant in October before the ground freezes.
1 bulb of garlic cloves will likely yield 5 bulbs of garlic next year.
Plant the cloves a minimum of 6 " apart in all directions.
Plant deep (twice the depth of the clove) in well loosened, well drained soil
Always plant the clove pointy end up, root end down, or you will get a bulb that has a crooked neck and is stunted in size. It spent a considerable amount of energy turning the shoot up and the roots
down when it started to grow.
When taking the cloves from the heads of garlic, carefully break them off; ideally you want to keep some of the basal root/scale on the clove. Plant the biggest, healthiest of the cloves; the small ones you can keep to eat. Water well. Keep watered if the weather is dry.
The garlic will sprout this fall. This is normal. Mulch the soil after as the ground begins to freeze. You do not want mid-winter warming up. In spring the mulch can be pulled off.
Harvest in about mid July when the green stalks start to tip over. Before that, in June the garlic will "flower", sending up a stem that will start to curl. Harvest these "stems" which are called scapes, before they set seed or flower. You can steam/stir-fry the tender top 6-10". You don't really want the garlic to flower and set seed as this takes some energy from growing big bulbs.
Save the largest/healthiest heads for future planting next fall.