Harvesting Your Garlic Crop
So, last part – you still with me? Once you’ve read a few books and then a few more on how to grow garlic and you’ve planted it well, it starts to grow nicely for you until you realize you have an actual crop. Crops need to be harvested and stored. Here’s where garlic is different from a tomato or another herb. A tomato you pick and eat right away; a bunch of basil you snip and throw in a salad or sauce. Garlic requires some specific attention during harvest and storing.
Once the leaves start to die back in the fall and the weather cools down, its time to dig up your garlic. You can use a shovel or pitchfork but I use my broadfork. Bring them carefully to the surface of the soil and let them sit there while you dig up the rest. Here’s how Kendra from New Life on a Homestead harvests her garlic.
After you’ve got them up, gather the bulbs together and spread them out of a surface that allows some air circulation – like a window screen or a pallet. Learning and Yearning found a cool way to cure hers – simple and she used what was at hand. If you’ve planted multiple varieties and you want to make sure you keep them separated, use a Sharpie to mark their stems with the variety name and bunch them together. However you choose to dry them, let them cure for several weeks in a cool, dry place. Once the skins are papery, you can braid them all together and store them somewhere similarly cool and dry. I have a cool room in my basement where I keep my stored food and seeds so I usually hang my garlic down there with my onions.
Word to the wise, don’t forget to gently knock off any dirt left behind from harvesting once the dirt has dried – it makes a huge mess in your storage area if it’s still on the bulbs.
You’ve totally got this – you’ll be an awesome garlic grower! Make sure and comment below if I forgot something important or if you garlic growers out there have more to add. I love garden advice!