If you’ve never grown garlic, here’s how you do it: On a bright cool fall afternoon, before the ground has frozen, you pry an ordinary, unpeeled clove of garlic off the bulb. You plant it in the ground, about 4 inches down and pointy side up. Maybe you cover the soil with some straw to protect it from extremes of heat, cold and drought.
Then comes the easy part — you forget about it. Thanksgiving comes, and a procession of seasonal holidays in which a lot of garlic is eaten, but none is given much thought. Thus ignored, the buried clove sleeps on while you sample chocolates in February and when the maple runs in March. And then, one day while venturing out into the winter-battered garden, still frost-edged and filled with flattened weeds, you see it — a small firm shoot poking up out of the ground like a miniature dorsal fin, glowing a brilliant emerald in an otherwise plantless wasteland.