Why not grow a year-round supply of great garlic? You’ll have all you need in 2012 if you plant this October.

A close cousin of the onion, garlic is a healthy food recommended by naturopathic doctors for prevention of heart disease and cancer. And, as everyone knows, it’s the key ingredient in dozens of recipes.

Look for fall-planted seed garlic at Maine nurseries. It’s available from Green Mountain Garlic (greenmountaingarlic.com). Fedco Co-op Garden Supplies in Waterville is another mail-order source, but their deadline for shipment has passed.

Plant garlic cloves five to six-inches deep in a tilled and fertile section of garden, spacing them half a foot apart. Mid-October up to ground freeze-up is the window for planting. Mulch with six inches of straw before snowfall.

In spring, pull back mulch and make sure the seedbed doesn’t dry out. Remove flower stalks (scapes). Pull some bulbs for summer use in August. In autumn, dig bulbs and let cure in a shady, dry place. Like onions, garlic will keep for months in an unheated room where there’s low moisture and above-freezing temperatures.

Do experiment with varieties.

— Lloyd Ferriss