Need to know what to do when it’s garlic harvest time? Learn how to process your garlic from harvest to storage so that it lasts all year!
Another successful garlic harvest in the books! It has been YEARS since we purchased garlic from the store. I love this low maintenance long season crop! It has to be one of the easiest crops to “save seed” from. We save some of the cloves from every garlic harvest specifically for planting in the Fall. If you are curious to know about our process for growing garlic, then check out our guide for growing garlic in zone 9.
I think it is such a beautiful plant to grow as well! Our kitchen garden either looks pretty when we are mid-winter or summer season or horrible if we are between seasons. I like that garlic is such a long crop (9 months!) It keeps one section of the garden at least looking great for 9 months out of the year! I think the garlic looks so pretty standing up in a nice neat row. I am always a little sad for the garden aesthetic when it is harvest day. A sacrifice on the “garden decor” is made up for in the kitchen after these nutrient powerhouses start getting used.
We used garlic in SO many dishes, so it is nice to always have it on hand in abundance after harvest day. Our garlic is stored in a large wicker basket, so after it is harvested, and cured, I always have it ready for meals. Before harvest day there is something to consider to ensure you have a successful harvest as well!
Garlic care leading up to garlic harvest time
Growing garlic requires good soil and steady moisture. Leading up to the time of harvest, garlic can benefit from a bit of neglect. Moderately of course! They still do need water, just not as much. Too much moisture can cause the bulbs to rot in the ground.
A dryer soil will allow the garlic to start to dry out a bit. Other than cutting back on the moisture a bit, garlic care leading up to garlic harvest time is the same as during the growing season.
How to know when it’s garlic harvest time
It is fairly easy to know when it is time to harvest garlic. The tops of the plants will start to turn yellow. Though this varies slightly on a variety of factors, harvest time should be when about 50% of the tops are yellow and 50% are green.
Before harvesting your entire crop, pull one or two bulbs and check the bulb size. If they look fully grown with a good clove size…harvest away! If they still need a little time for maturation. Then keep checking them on a weekly basis.
How to harvest garlic
Harvesting garlic is as easy as grasping the stalk close to the ground level and giving the entire plant a pull! Once the bulb is free from the ground, gently brush away any loose dirt. Be sure to not damage the papery outside of the bulb. It is okay for their to be dirt still left on the garlic, it will fall away as it cures and is stored.
How to cure garlic for storage
Garlic needs a well ventilated area to cure. Just get the garlic separated enough that air can circulate around the entire bulb. Laying the garlic in a single layer on a breathable raised layer of chicken wire or lath works great. It is also helpful to direct a box fan to the garlic so it can get even more airflow. Leave the garlic to cure for at least two weeks before moving to storage.
How to store garlic
Once the garlic has been cured it is ready for storage! Before storing, remove the dried garlic tops (unless you are braiding.) You can do this by, simply snipping with a pair of scissors. Leave about 1-2 inches of stem. Garlic does best in containers made of natural material like a wicker basket or burlap sack.
Place the container of garlic in a cool, dry, dark place like a temperature controlled room, closet, or storage area. Avoid having the garlic in freezing or too hot of an environment.
Recipes that use garlic
Garlic can be used in so many ways, here are some of our favorite recipes that use garlic!
Recipes that use garlic cloves:
- Rustic Venison Stew
- Parmesan Kale Chips
- Rosemary Garlic Mashed Potatoes
- Lamb Goulash
- Refrigerator Dill Pickles
Recipes that use garlic scapes:
- Garlic Scape Chimichurri
- Spring Onion and Garlic Scape Quiche
- Flaky Cheddar Garlic Scape Biscuits
- Garlic Scape Focaccia Bread
Garlic Harvest Time Frequently Asked Questions
Can you harvest garlic too early?
Yes! You can harvest garlic too early. There will be nothing wrong or inedible with the bulbs, however they will tiny. It is a let down to grow garlic for so long then not get all of it’s potential size because of early harvesting. Instead just test one bulb and see if it is a good size before harvesting your entire crop.
Does garlic grow back every year?
No. Garlic needs to be planted every year. Simply save some garlic from this years crop and replant in the Fall.
Can you eat garlic leaves?
No! The only part of the garlic that is commonly eaten besides the bulb is the flower stalk. This is called a garlic scape and it is commonly used by gourmet chefs and gardeners to make delicious meals.
Can you leave garlic in the ground too long?
Yes. If garlic is left too long in the ground it can crack. This makes the garlic vulnerable for mold and rot.