When to Harvest Garlic

If you follow me on Facebook, you know that last week I harvested our garlic.   This was our second year planting garlic and it has become on of my favorite crops to grow and harvest.   Garlic is so incredibly easy.

In the fall, you plant your garlic cloves, cover them and then just wait.  When spring hits, your hardnecks will send up scapes.  Cut those babies off; they make a delicious dish, and cutting your scapes will force the garlic plant to put its energy into making a bulb instead of a flower.  Trust me.  Cut the scape.  This year, I missed about three scapes, and here are the garlic heads to compare.

These two heads of garlic are the same variety.  The one on the left had the scape cut off, but the one on the right got overlooked during scape cutting time.  Amazing difference, isn’t it.

Last year I harvested my garlic in a fit of nesting during the pouring rain, a mere week before C was born.  I was insanely driven to pull all the garlic right then.  It couldn’t even wait the extra day to let the soil dry from the rain.

But if you are not nesting a week before your labor, how do you know when your garlic is ready to harvest?

By looking at the leaves.

When the leaves at the bottom of the garlic plant start to turn brown and dry, your garlic is ready.  As you can see from this picture, my leaves are almost all brown.  I probably could have harvested a week or so earlier than I did, but as you might guess from all the weeds, I was sort of neglecting the garlic beds.  Not to worry, garlic will usually keep as long as it’s not an overly soggy summer.

This year we planted three different varieties of garlic; a mystery variety that I’ve been saving from our CSA farm share (Monroe) for the last couple of years, Georgian Fire, and Erik’s German White.  Judging by size alone, you can guess which has made me happiest.  I’ve yet to do the taste test.

Categories: Food, Garden | Tags: , , , | 9 Comments

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9 thoughts on “When to Harvest Garlic

  1. What do you cover them with in the Fall? Just heavily mulched in? I’ve always been a bit hesitant to grow garlic, but you make it sound so dang easy…

  2. Hey John, we throw down a layer of leaves over the bulbs and call it good.

  3. Our winter was so mild here in Georgia that the garlic tops never died off. My first harvest ever was a pretty good one – I can’t wait to do it again next year!

  4. Cynthia in Denver

    Cut the first scapes!!!! Oooh. I was so happy to harvest garlic, but seeing how big yours got and finding out how they got so big, i must say how disappointed I am with my own. Thanks for the info! I know

  5. Christie

    I am so excited to read this! We are definitely planing garlic this fall – I eat a ton of it, and I just love the idea of one garlic clove turning into many. MAAAGIC. :)

  6. Thank you for such a great post-especially the photos! I’m often frustrated just reading abut how to grow things, how to prune/manage, and when to harvest because I often can’t figure out their descritptions…your pictures and descriptions make it perfectly clear! You’re a champ!

  7. I harvested my garlic a couple of weeks ago. It’s now hanging in the insulated garage, but it’s about ready to be braided and go into long-term storage (or I may jut cut the stems off and store them in mesh bags…). I grew Music, and got some really nice sized heads. I left a couple of scapes on on purpose because I read that when the scapes stand up straight, you harvest two weeks later. We’re definitely going to be replanting some of the garlic this fall. Have you ever saved the bulbils? I’m debating about planting those…

  8. Pingback: Top Seven Posts of 2012 « The Lazy Homesteader

  9. So glad this post was neglected. I only just started reading your blog this month so I wouldn’t have seen it. Very helpful. Thanks. & Happy New Year.

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