Harvesting and storing garlic

When the tops of your garlic plants begin to die back, it’s time to think about harvest!  Stop watering your plants so that they will get a chance to dry out (Mother Nature may make this difficult).  When about half of the leaves have died, your garlic should be ready.  If you want to be certain before you dig it all up, you can carefully feel around in the ground to get a sense of how developed the bulbs are, or dig a couple up to inspect them and ensure that the cloves have filled out.

Use a spade or fork–inserted well away from the garlic–the loosen the soil so that you can remove plants without damaging them.  Gently brush off the dirt that clings to the plants, but don’t wash them or remove their leaves or roots.  Hang the plants in bunches of 6 or so in a dark, dry location with good air circulation.  Leave it there for at least a month, until the leaves, roots, and husks have dried.  At that point you can cut off the roots and leaves (leave the latter on if you plan to braid them).

Store garlic in a dark, cool area.  I keep mine in a basket, but you can use a mesh bag, or continue to hang it.

Softneck types of garlic can be stored for 6-8 months; hardneck varieties may begin to sprout within half of the time.  Check your stores every now and then to ensure that your garlic is not sprouting or drying out.  Remember to save some garlic for planting in the fall.

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