I love growing garlic. You plant it in the fall, right around first frost, giving it just enough time to grow roots but not so much time that it will put up a lot of growth that would be killed by the cold winter temperatures. Most of the fall chores for the garden involve pulling out spent plants and preparing beds for winter-- tucking garlic bulbs into the soil is a forward-looking exception.
The early rooting helps keep the bulb from being heaved out of the ground by freezing. Then the garlic waits under several inches of mulch through the winter. In the spring it will be one of the earliest things to come poking through the soil, green and hopeful. You can clip and use the slender curling scapes the hardneck garlic puts out in early summer. Harvest the garlic late in the summer when the stalks and fronds have begun to yellow. Let the heads of garlic dry in a cool dark place.