Posts Tagged ‘harvesting garlic’

Garlic Harvest

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016
Harvesting Garlic

Harvesting Garlic

We harvested our 100 garlic plants yesterday.  The bulbs were almost all quite large and firm.  We didn’t wait for the stalks (on the soft necks) to fall over, the traditional sign that it’s time to harvest.  We were expecting some extended rains and we didn’t want to harvest wet bulbs, nor did we want the outer skin layers to start splitting.  The time was right.

Lettuce and Garlic

Lettuce and Garlic

We planted two rows of hard necks and one row of soft necks.  I started out using the broad fork to lift out several bulbs at a time, but I quickly switched to using a small fork and a CobraHead Weeder to pull out each bulb individually.  That was because I still have a lot of young lettuce plants that I had planted between the rows and I want to keep them going until I clean up the bed and do a late summer planting of beets and carrots.

Drying Garlic

Drying Garlic

We’ll dry the garlic for about two weeks on tables in the garage, but if it gets too hot we’ll bring them into the house to finish drying slowly.  High heat can overdry the garlic and practically cause them to disintegrate.

When the leaves turn brown we’ll cut them off leaving a 2″ stalk and store in the basement in mesh hanging baskets for good air circulation.

Garlic Bulbs

Garlic Bulbs

The Great Garlic Harvest of 2011

Friday, July 15th, 2011

We harvested garlic, yesterday.  The bed was kind of weedy this year and I did not do my usual inter-planting with salad greens.  However the garlic was just fine and at the peak time for harvesting.  Last year we left it in the ground a little too long and the bulbs did not store as well as usual.  This year we think we got it at exactly the right time.

We used to grow soft neck garlic and it was quite easy to tell when it was ready to pick.  The leaves yellowed and fell over.  We switched to growing hard-necked varieties a few years ago after attending a garlic festival in Minnesota and seeing the greater variety and different tastes available in the hard neck types.  Judy thinks the soft necked types store better in our system, but we also think the hard necks do offer more in terms of flavor.  Maybe I’ll try a side-by-side planting of both next time.

Harvesting the garlic should not be accomplished by pulling the stems directly out of the ground.  The more gentle you are with the neck and bulb, the better the garlic will store.  A fork works well to get the bulb loose, but I found my broadfork to be even better.  With it, I could loosen up three or four bulbs at a time.  I then used my CobraHead to get under the bulbs and lift them out.  Easy, quick, and no damage at all.

Against most advice regarding preparing the bulbs for storage, we wash the dirt off the bulb before we store them.  We do this immediately after the garlic is removed from the bed.  We rub off as much dirt as we can with our hands, then swish the bulb around in a bucket of water to  remove the dirt stuck to the root mass.  We make sure we immediately lay the garlic out to dry.  We have found no problems with this method and we get reasonably good storage life.  The garlic sold in food stores all appears to have been washed, so we think it must be an okay practice.

If you wash the garlic, it’s imperative that you dry it quickly and thoroughly.  In the picture above, I’ve laid out most of the 100 bulbs we planted on a table with the bulbs exposed to the air and not touching one another.  We’ll keep them in the garage on this table for two weeks, re-arranging the pile a couple times to make sure they get dried out well.  Then we’ll trim off the stalks about six inches above the bulb top and trim off the root hairs close to the bulb.  We store the bulbs in hanging wire baskets in the basement.