One can get away with planting garlic in early spring in Berkeley if one has no desire for any part of it besides green tips, not a bad idea at all. Green tips are speedily grown in March, just when we crave spring greens, and make a pleasant change from green onions, adding sparkle to salads and sauces with less strength than the mature bulb. Simply separate a bulb into cloves and set a dozen of them into a one-gallon pot of potting soil. Because the bulbs will not mature, little space is needed. Water if the earth becomes dry. In a week green shoots will appear, and harvesting can begin soon after.
For bulbs, buy a red or white garlic bulb, preferably organic. Separate it as above into cloves. A fat bulb will yield about thirty cloves. Set these into the ground in mid October, in rich soil if you can, pointy end up, just below the surface and about three inches apart. Cover them with a light mulch. Then forget about them. Do not, ever, water them. Winter rains take care of juvenile needs, and they will ripen while Berkeley’s two seasons change from wet to dry. Dig them in June. Keep them in a dry place until their tops have completely withered. This takes about two weeks. Now they are ready to use. What vegetable could be easier, or more rewarding?
If anyone is new to garlic, peel and cut a clove in half and drag the cut ends around the inside of a glass bowl. The garlic will impart its addictive aroma to any leaves tossed therein. For aficionados, recipes are numerous. Practically anything becomes edible when mixed with olive oil, garlic and salt. The following recipe, one of my summer favorites, is terrific for hungry breakfasters.