Community Garden News: Garlic Harvest Time

This time of year garlic leaves die back indicating they are almost ready to harvest.  Once this process has started, you’ll know its about time to stop watering your garlic.  In general, this is about 2-3 weeks from when you harvest your garlic.

During this time period, I like to pull up a few heads of garlic to see how far they have developed. Run your finger along the outside of the garlic head.  You should feel the bumps of prominent cloves.  If you feel their outline, you’ll know that they’re almost ready and the leaves aren’t yellowing due to a lack of water.

Once ¾ of the leaves have died, you can harvest.  If you leave the garlic in the ground too long, the outer paper will begin to disintegrate and the head will split open.  Garlic that has split is still edible, it just doesn’t keep as well through the winter.

I learned to cure garlic from Sarah Bortis when I worked with her at Orchard Gardens.  She takes a long piece of bailing twine (you can use any string you have handy) and ties it together making a loop.  She hangs the twine on a nail in her barn – it’s a cool dark place that is great for curing.  She then places the neck of one or two heads of garlic in the twine and twists 2x, repeating until all the garlic is hung or the loop is full.   This is a great option for hard neck as it is virtually impossible to braid.  It’s also a quick and efficient method if you have a relatively large harvest.

If you are doing this at home, let the garlic hang in a cool dry spot that stays consistent in temperature with good airflow.  Hang for about 2 weeks to cure the garlic.  Once cured, cut off leaves and roots, place heads of garlic in a paper bag, then store in a cool, dry and dark place for the winter.  See Cori’s Ash’s blog from this spring to check out her garlic trick.  I can’t wait to try it!