When 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.
This post will guide you on when to harvest garlic & how to cure garlic for storage
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.
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.
My name is Isis Loran, creator of the Family Food Garden. I’ve been gardening for over 10 years now and push the limits of our zone 5 climates. I love growing heirlooms & experimenting with hundreds of varieties, season extending, crunchy homesteading and permaculture.