Garden Planning?

When to Harvest Garlic & Cure to Make it Last

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When to Harvest and How to Cure your GarlicWhen should you harvest garlic?

If you’re growing garlic in your garden you might be wondering when it’s the right time to harvest. This can depend on the variety you’re growing and the season, dryer seasons often pushing that harvest a little earlier than expected.

We love garlic! In fact we head to the Hills Garlic Festival most years to try out new and different varieties. I wrote this big guide on how to grow garlic. 

This post will guide you on when to harvest garlic & how to cure garlic for storage

Timing is everything when harvesting garlic! Learn how to harvest garlic and how to cure garlic

Garlic Harvesting Tips

  • A few weeks before you harvest you’ll want to stop watering so the lower leaves start to dry up.
  • If you have hardneck garlic you’ll want to harvest the garlic scapes. Here’s how to harvest them + recipes for using them.
  • Always dig out your garlic, preferably with a fork not a shovel, instead of pulling them up as you’ll damage them and they won’t store well. If you do use a shovel you might accidentally cut the bulb, which is fine to consume right away but can’t be used for curing and storing.
  • Be gentle with your garlic! Don’t throw your bulbs or toss them onto the ground, the more rough handling the increased chance of bruising which reduces storage ability.
  • The best time to harvest your garlic is when the lower leaves are yellow and the tops are still green. If you harvest them too early they’ll be smaller and the wrapper won’t be as developed. If you harvest too late when all of the leaves are yellow the bulbs will start splitting and won’t store well.

From West Coast Seeds:

Each leaf on the above-ground garlic plant represents one potential papery wrapper around the mature bulb. Having well developed, fully intact wrapper layers means that your garlic will store longer and keep its wonderful aroma and flavour. The trick is to let the plants begin to die back, but harvest before all the leaves have turned brown.

  • Double check for garlic disease, which tend to all be fungal related. The bulb will look bad and be white or black and look like they’re decaying/rotting. Below is some diseased garlic we experienced this summer.

Garlic disease & fungal problems are something to watch for before harvesting garlic

How to Cure Garlic

  • Once you’ve harvested you’ll want to keep them out of the sun and in a well ventilated area.
  • Brush off any dirt on the garlic bulbs but keep the bulb and tops together.
  • Hang up your garlic in bunches of 5-7. They need lots of good air flow to dry, out of the sun but in a well ventilated area.
  • Let dry for 2-4 weeks. This time depends on how much humidity is in the air, temperature etc. You want all the green leaves to turn yellow.
  • When they’re all dry you can clean up the bulbs and gently brush off any dirt.
  • Cut the garlic at the base of the stem and store in a cool dark place.
  • You can braid softneck garlic.

When should you harvest garlic? Learn garlic harvesting tips

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  1. My niece accidentally mowed my entire garlic crop of 800 plants. I estimate that it had about 3 weeks before harvest. Do I leave it, or try to harvest it now? There are no stems showing. Any suggestions for how to dig them up, without damaging the bulbs.

    Thank you!

    • Hi Leslie. It’s hard to say without seeing the bulbs, but I’d harvest some and check them over. I imagine they’ll be damaged on many of the bulbs from the mowing (for example where the tires drove over) but you might have rows of undamaged ones. If you leave them in the ground they might try to start growing leaves, reducing bulb development time. I don’t water the last 3 weeks, then harvest and cure. Your situation is unique. I’d harvest some and check them over, clean them and see how many wrappers have been formed over the bulbs. For the curing stage, these wrappers become dryer. It’s possible they needed field curing for longer and might be best left in the ground until your usual harvest time too. I’d do a little of both because your bed has so many bulbs. As for digging them up, a fork is usually recommended or shovel, you don’t pull them up from the greens so the garlic not having the tops is fine to dig and harvest.

      Best of luck!

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