The garlic harvest

I dug up the garlic for the year the other day. We ended up with a couple dozen heads after planting the cloves from three heads in the fall, so it was a pretty good return. I don’t remember what varieties I planted, but there were a handful of softnecks among the hardneck types, so it was at least a couple different things.

Since the weather’s been so dry, it was pretty easy digging them up. According to conventional wisdom, garlic should be dug up when the leaves start to yellow, but when there are still a few green ones left. This isn’t totally foolproof, so before you dig, loosen the soil a bit next to a bulb and look or feel to gauge the size of the bulb and make a determination whether or not to take them out. To dig them out, I stuck a small shovel next to each bulb and slowly loosened and lifted it out. Just be gentle.

Once the garlic is out, it needs to cure to maximize the storage potential. It needs a couple weeks of warm, dry air, out of direct light, with good circulation. Lots of people hang it (braiding garlic), but I put it on a screen and let it sit. When it’s cured, it should be stored in a cool place (an unheated basement usually works well), and should keep for at least several months. Nothing like fresh, homegrown garlic!

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2 thoughts on “The garlic harvest

  1. I harvested my garlic with quite a bit more green left on it. Do you think you left yours in the ground too long? I had heard that the longer you leave it out, the more layers of “paper” you lose, until the cloves are just exposed.

    • The softneck variety was more brown than the hardneck, so perhaps I could have picked that earlier. The hardneck was still over half-green, though it’s not really visible in the picture. I’ve heard the same thing, so I try to harvest when it’s about half-brown, half-green. I’m not sure if it’s possible to pick it too green?

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