There is nothing more satisfying than getting your hands dirty harvesting fresh garlic from cool moist soil on a summer morning!
Fall planted garlic is usually harvested in June or July. To know when your plants are ready wait for 3 or 4 of the lower leaves to dry while 5 or 6 of the upper leaves remain green. This is the best time to harvest, for if you postpone it much longer the bulbs will start to split open in the ground.
When you go to harvest, here is a video and step-by-step instructions showing the process:
- Using a pitch fork or shovel, gently lift and loosen the soil around your bulbs being sure not to puncture or damage them. Loosening the soil beforehand is best given that the soil is usually compacted as it hasn’t been disturbed for many months. Also, simply hand pulling the stalks may cause the bulbs and stems to break apart.
- Using your hands, gently remove the bulbs from the loose soil.
- Shake off or use your fingers to remove the excess soil. If you have particularly muddy soil you can lightly rinse them.
- Once your plants are dug up, they are ready for drying. You can either make traditional garlic braids with 6-8 plants and hang them to dry. Or lay them out on screens so that they have good air circulation. You can make your own screens from framing wood and hard-wire cloth or use nursery flats or recycled window screens.
- Now place them in a dry dark area such as a shed or a garage.
- Allow them to cure for about 4 to 6 weeks.
- Once they are fully dry you can cut the roots and trim the stalk to about an inch from the bulb.
- Remember to save the biggest bulbs with the most cloves for re-planting in the fall (October or early November)
- Enjoy the remaining ones in your favorite dishes!