In the Garden – The Cult of Garlic Cloves

Are you beguiled by pyramid schemes, but loath to lose a fortune? Deanna Stanchfield has an offer for you.

Here is how it works: You send Ms. Stanchfield, 42, and her partner, Scott Jentink, 47, a nominal sum — say, $12. They mail you a half-dozen bulbs of garlic from their Swede Lake Farms and Global Garlic in Watertown, Minn., out past the golf course suburbs west of Minneapolis. They have the bulbs — 40,000 of them — curing in a hayloft, suspended from the rafters like bats in a cave.

If you bury each clove separately in October or November — think of them as seeds — you should be able to harvest 30 to 35 new garlic bulbs in July. Split those bulbs and plant the cloves next fall, and you will have 150 garlic bulbs by July of 2012. The following year will deliver 750 heads, and the summer after that, 3,750.

And the year after that? Now we’re getting into Bernard Madoff-style math. At this point, you can surely spare a few bulbs to start your neighbor’s garlic garden.

Still not sold? Six years ago, Mr. Jentink said, “we started with 14 pounds.” His planting this fall, he said, “will give us in theory, at least, a harvest of about 20,000 pounds.”

“All by hand,” Ms. Stanchfield added.