How do you know when garlic is ready to harvest?
How you know when to harvest garlic
Garlic is a very interesting plant to grow. The first few years we grew garlic we planted it in the spring and we were very disappointed in our harvest. We had researched planting garlic and had learned it needs to be planted in the fall. We live at 5600 ft. above sea level and we were a little worried the bulbs would freeze in the winter because our winters can be harsh at times.
Best time to plant garlic
Since we were disappointed in our past harvests we decided, what did we have to lose? We planted in the fall and the next spring the garlic poked its little leaves through the ground before all of the snow had melted from the garden.
We harvested a bumper crop in July. Since that year we have added several varieties to our garlic patch in the garden and we have not been disappointed since.
Garlic is interesting to watch, it tells you when it is ready to harvest. In another post, I have talked about the scapes that grow on the garlic. We cut most of the scapes off so the nutrients will go to the bulb instead of to the scapes. We leave one scape on each row. Sometimes maybe even two.
When to harvest
The scape is what we watch so we know when to harvest our garlic. If you watch the scapes closely you will notice the scape is curled with a couple of loops. As it gets closer to the time to harvest the scape will begin to straighten out.
Each day it will become a little straighter until it is standing straight in the air. This is when the garlic is ready to harvest. Another indication the garlic is ready to harvest can be found where the neck goes into the garlic bulb. This will start to pull slightly apart. It is important to harvest before the garlic pulls completely away so the cloves will not get dirty and start to mold.
What to do next
My husband carefully digs each of the bulbs out making sure he doesn’t cut any of the bulbs with the shovel. After digging each of them out of the ground he bunches them together making sure to leave each variety in its own bunch.
He then marks each of the bundles with a notecard so he will remember which variety is in which group. He hangs each bundle in the rafters of our shop with string, allowing them time to dry. When the stem and leaves have completely dried, he cuts off the tops. He places them into labeled mesh bags to keep them dry and air going through them so they won’t mold. It is also important to keep them where it is dark so they won’t sprout.
Our basement is cool but is probably not the most ideal place to store the garlic bulbs because it is a little bit humid, but it is the only place we have at this time.
In October he will take the big bulbs out and prepare them for planting. We keep the rest of the bulbs to use. We have stored garlic for an entire year. We ran out just in time for the next harvest
I would love to hear your experiences growing garlic or if you have any comments or questions. Please leave them below.
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