When To Harvest Garlic
Here in the Pacific Northwest we planted our garlic babies in and around October, so after nearly 9 months our garlic babies are just about all set to be harvested! Green, lush, and girthy, they have had an amazing growing season! BUT, if they're harvested too soon the results can be quite underwhelming as the majority of the garlic head development happens in the final weeks. So how do you know when to harvest your garlic? Well, that’s what I’m going to help guide you through right now!
When To Harvest Garlic
We want BIG heads of garlic. Like, REALLY big! And if you harvest your garlic on the early side you’re probably going to get very underwhelming results.
Can you even tell that’s a garlic plant?! Well, it is. And it’s been harvested about one to one and a half months too early. What’s deceiving is that the stems of the garlic plant (the above-ground, visible green stem of the plant) can look incredibly healthy. And so if you’re new to planting garlic you wouldn’t be blamed if you figured, “Hey, now’s a good time to harvest my garlic!” With every head of garlic looking like the photo above, you’d be pretty disappointed, and we don’t want that!
SIGN #1: GARLIC SCAPES
Garlic scapes come right out of the top of the plant and if you left them on the plant they would produce garlic seeds for future generations.
This means the garlic plant is reaching its maturation point as a plant. HOWEVER, leaving the garlic scapes on the plant would focus a lot of the plant’s energy toward producing the flowers and not toward producing a large head of garlic.
So when you see those garlic scapes on your garlic plants make sure to prune them off. When do you prune them off? Wait until the garlic scape has done a full loop (loopdeloop if you want to be fun with it!) and then prune it at the base of the scape with some pruning shears.
Do this for every single garlic plant in your garlic patch and voila - you’ve just helped your garlic plant focus all its energy toward making a nice head of garlic!
SIGN #2: FOUR DEAD LEAVES
How ominous, right?! Haha - well, in this case it’s a good thing!
So all you have to do is count upwards and if there are four dead leaves on your garlic plants then it is Christmas in October: Garlic Harvest Day!!
How To Harvest GarlicThankfully, how to harvest your garlic isn’t difficult. In fact it’s super straightforward and easy! All you need to do is take your Hori Hori Knife and dig it into the ground about 3 inches off the stem.
Do this across your entire garlic patch and you’ll have a massive harvest of garlic just like I did last season! (And hopefully this season as well!)
How To Cure And Store GarlicGreat! You’ve got all that garlic out of your garden bed. Now what? Well, you need to allow it to dry, so do not wash it and do not rinse it! Heck, you don’t even need to remove any of the dirt still on the heads of garlic. What you need to find is a dry spot for it to air dry for about two weeks.
Feel free to get creative and place it on some chicken wire in your garage.
Or you can hang it inside somewhere dry.
Just be sure that where you’re air drying your garlic is not your living room, bedroom, or somewhere pristine because during the air drying process all that caked on dirt will eventually dry out and fall away from the heads of garlic.
Once you’ve completed the two-week drying out process, the last thing you need to do is cut the stem off.
To do this, go 1-2 inches above the bulb of garlic and snip it off, leaving you with a beautiful head of garlic.
Pop the heads of garlic into a burlap bag (our Mind & Soil burlap bags are perfect for this!) where you can keep them until you either want to use them in a recipe or plant the biggest ones into your garden next season!
I hope this has been helpful for you! Now go get those hands dirty and let’s harvest some garlic!