Harvesting The Garlic Plot

Harvesting GarlicThe longest day of the year has come and gone. The day when Garlic is traditionally harvested, after it’s planted out on the shortest day of the year.

But I didn’t harvest my Garlic on that day this year, because I was a bit late getting my Garlic planted. So I waited a few extra weeks, and then began the harvest.

The longest day isn’t the only indicator of when Garlic should be harvested, which is good if you’re like me and missed the traditional planting days.

Even though your precious bulbs are hidden underground, making it hard to know what’s going on, there is a clue for you above ground to tell when your Garlic is ready to harvest. When the 4-5 leaves closest to the bulb have wilted and browned off, while the top leaves of the foliage are still green, your Garlic is probably ready to be harvested.

I find harvesting Garlic so satisfying, seeing those big, fat bulbs coming of the ground and knowing how great organic, home grown Garlic tastes. And we got a pretty good haul from our planting this year, so it should keep us going until next years Garlic is ready, as long as we store it properly.

Harvesting Garlic is pretty simple, but there are a few tips that will help you to get the best quality from your crop.

Garlic Harvesting Tips

  • Stop watering your Garlic about 2 weeks prior to harvesting, to allow the protective skins on the bulbs to begin hardening.
  • If you’re concerned that your bulbs haven’t been in long enough to fully form and swell, dig a few up and check them before digging up the whole crop.
  • Don’t try and pull your Garlic out by the foliage. It can snap off leaving the bulbs in the ground. Carefully loosen the soil around the bulbs with a garden fork, until the bulbs easily come free, roots, bulb, foliage and all.
  • Handle your Garlic bulbs extremely carefully. Knocking or dropping the bulbs can cause bruising and encourage rot.
  • Brush or wash away any soil clinging to the bulbs then trim the roots down to about 1 inch for storage.
  • Garlic needs to be cured so that it can survive longer terms storage. Either braid the foliage of 8-10 bulbs together and hang them, or lay the bulbs out (with the foliage still attached) on a mesh frame ( I use a wooden frame with chicken wire stapled taut across it).
  • Don’t store your curing Garlic in a spot that exposes it to harsh sunlight. Choose a airy, shaded spot for 3-4 weeks of curing.
  • Once your Garlic is cured, keep it in a cool dry spot for longer storage. You can either keep the Garlic in braids, or trim the foliage off to approximately 1 inch above the bulb and store in trays. Do not store your Garlic in the fridge.
While the above tips are pretty important to get a good supply of Garlic for you to enjoy over the Winter months, don’t let the details put you off growing this crop. Garlic really is very easy, and not at all time consuming to grow. Your main effort goes into planting your seed Garlic, and then harvesting the bulbs when they are ready. It took me only half an hour to harvest, and prepare for cure, nearly 100 bulbs so it’s not a huge job at all.
Oh, and don’t forget, as you use your bulbs through the coming months, remember to save a few good, fat cloves from each bulb to use as your seed Garlic for next season. 
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