Harvesting And Curing Garlic

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Last November, right before the first frost, in the middle of the month, I planted garlic in one of my garden beds. It was very easy to do, you take a garlic clove and stick it in the soil, root side down about 6 inches from the next one. And that all there is to it.

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The garlic sprouted only a few days after I planted it, but then overwintered in the ground, uncovered, all Winter long. It didn’t grow any further but it didn’t die either. Once the weather started to warm a bit in the beginning of Spring, the garlic started growing again.

My garlic share the bed with peas and the soil is covered with leaf mulch. I have to note here that this worked really well, both the garlic and the peas were happy and the mulch (which is basically dry Fall leaves) made it a no-work bed. I didn’t have any weeds and I didn’t have to water at all.

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In the past week, the top of the plants started to yellow and die. This meant, it was harvest time.

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I used a garden fork to loosen the soil around the bulbs….

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I placed it a few inches from the plant and pushed it into the soil, moving it back and forth a bit to make the soil loose.

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Then I pulled the bulb gently out of the soil.

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I had to take a moment to admire nature’s wonders. Those crops which grow under ground kill me. I am so curious through the whole season about what is going on under there, I have to hold myself back from harvesting too early. And then, when the moment comes I find myself time and again amazed. It never gets old.

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I harvested one third of my garlic, the rest will be ready in a couple of weeks. To cure garlic you have to hang it in a cool, dry, well ventilated, dark place for three weeks or so. You can tie the bunch and hang it in a shed or in your house somewhere.

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I choose to braid my garlic. The braid positions the bulbs apart from each other so air can flow easily between them, making it easier for them to dry. You do this just as you will a french braid. Place three of the plants on the ground or a flat surface…

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And start braiding. The hand in the picture belongs to my baby Benny, he was checking the quality of the harvest.

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 Add one plant every time you bring an outside stem to the center.

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Keep going. Hurry up though, cause this little hand is going to mess the whole thing…

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You can keep going and make it as long as you want. When it’s time to end the braid….

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Take a couple of leaves out…

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And loop them around the braid…

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Then bring them in between the rest of the leaves and tuck them in or you can use a twine here to secure the braid.

Harvesting-And-Curing-Garlic-01And there you have it. You can see how the bulbs are pulled away from each other a bit.

I can’t wait to use them and I really hope to get at least two more braids like this one from the garlic left in the bed. After they dry out I will cut the roots and then cut the stems about an inch from the bulbs and clean it from dry soil (I didn’t do much cleaning after I pulled them out, just a little gentle brushing with my hands).

Do you grow garlic? When do you plant it? Where do you cure it?

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32 thoughts on “Harvesting And Curing Garlic”

  1. Lisa @ Fresh Eggs Daily

    This is my second year growing garlic. The first year I only planted three cloves since I wasn’t sure it would work! I was so excited and impressed with the quality of freshly grown garlic, this past November I planted 30 cloves and have harvested about six of them. I’ve been using them almost as fast as I harvest them, so I haven’t dried any yet but I plan to braid them like you have and hang them in our spare bathroom where it’s dry, dark and cool.
    Lisa
    Fresh Eggs Daily

      1. Our Winters are not as harsh as yours. Still, plant in the Fall two weeks of so before the first frost. Then cover with a layer of mulch and forget about it. You’ll see the plant starting to grow when temperatures warm up a bit at the beginning of Spring. Good luck!

  2. This is very interesting to me. I don’t quite understand root vegetables. A couple of times I have accidentally left onions in the ground, and they have been viable the following spring, even though we live in a climate that can get down to 40 below zero in the winter. (And we have VERY long winters!) Will the garlic survive in a climate like that, and will it work in my new raised bed gardens? Do you always grow it over the winter, or can it be planted in the spring with the rest of the crops? Thanks!

    1. Let me start by saying that I am fascinated by the fact that you live in such a cold area. My husband and I traveled the US for two years and a lot of my favorite memories are from being stuck in a snow storm. I came from the desert (Israel) and live in NC, but I always wanted to try living in Montana or North Dakota. And I have to visit Alaska one day! Anyway, you can try planting garlic in the beginning of Spring but I think you will be disappointed with the size of the bulbs when you harvest in the end of Summer. The cold weather helps the plant develop a strong root system before the stems and leaves start to grow. This strong root system results in a stronger and healthier plant and bulb. If I were you, I will plant two weeks (or so) before the first frost, I assume in your area it is between mid-September to mid-October. I will then cover the planted area with a layer of mulch (dry leaves, hay, straw, wood chips…) or build a hoop house structure over the beds (this is easy and cheap… you can see how I do it by searching my site for “preparing the garden beds for Winter). The next Spring you’ll see the stem and leaves coming up between the mulch. I grow my garlic in raised beds, they are about a foot deep. If you try it I will love for you to come back and tell me how it turned out. Good luck!

      1. I live in a very cold zone, sounds similar to yours Denyce. Zone 3B (Edmonton, AB, for those who are curious).

        I planted garlic last year, twice to see what worked best. I originally planted in the spring, I was concerned about over wintering too. I got a few sad tiny little heads of garlic…which I replanted in the fall.

        Then, I went to the local farmer’s market and picked up some Russian Red bulbs which had been grown locally (so I knew they’d work in my climate) and planted them about 6 inches deep in the fall. Well, they look great now! They came up first of all my plants, and the stems are still the tallest thing in my garden. I’ll be buying more bulbs this year and re-planting some of my own.

        So, the good news is, it’ll definitely overwinter in our climate πŸ™‚

        1. Thank you so much for confirming! This is what I suggested too. The garlic really loves the Winter, no matter how cold it is.

        2. The hard neck garlics, such a the Russian Red, are best for colder climates. They make larger cloves, have ‘hard necks’ and are said to not keep as well. Mine keep until the next years crop comes in. They tend to start to get soggy but are not spoiled. I have never grown the soft neck variety, such as you might buy at the supermarket. Peace Grammy

          1. To tell you the truth… I have no clue what kind I planted. I knew there were two major kinds but just planted whatever I found in the market without giving it too much thought. It worked so I will just keep planting few of the cloves I now harvest. It is really awesome to be able to use your own crops year round. True self-sufficiency!

  3. After hung and dried i peel wash and place in a glass baking dish drizzled w/a little olive oil. Bake/roast about 30 min in a 350* oven. Then mash w/fork and fill ice cube trays. Place in freezer. When frozen pop them into a zip lock bag. Then use 1-2 “ice cubes” as needed when cooking!!! Or melt a cube w/ butter in micro. Mix well. Reset in fridge and use for garlis bread sperad! Yum

    1. Oh my, this sounds really good. Do you just prefer using it like that or did you have a problem with the dry garlic lasting long?

  4. Thanks for the reminder to keep track of when the garlic leaves turn yellow. Some years I forget to harvest the garlic altogether. Your garlic braid is lovely. We’re still eating last year’s garlic harvest -pretty neat to have gone a whole year without having to buy any garlic.

    1. Oh yes! This is my goal but I don’t have enough room in my home garden. Good thing we started working our land in the country. This November I am going to plant a truck load of cloves!

  5. Lovely garlic harvest! I plant ours in fall, usually November. It is just about time to start digging the early varieties about now. I cure ours in our basement, which is hot and dry in summer unlike most basements thanks to no a/c and a dehumidifier.

  6. Hi, I just hopped over from Waste Not Want Not Wednesday and just wanted to say this post is super helpful. I planted my first batch of garlic in November, but I haven’t harvested it yet. I did harvest the garlic scapes on it today though and they were delicious!

  7. I love growing garlic, this is my third year and I am so pleased with the results each year! Thank you for sharing your post on the HomeAcre Hop, I’m going to feature it tomorrow! Hope to see you link up again! – Nancy

    The Home Acre Hop

  8. I grew about 50 plants this past year (first time). If you look up the YouTube video on how to peel garlic cloves by shaking them in two metal pans facing each other it is the greatest tip I’ve recently come across. I dried about half the cloves in my dehydration then ground them up for granulated garlic and the finer sieves were powdered garlic. The rest went into my food processor until chopped, then frozen. I can break off chunks for use in cooking.

    1. I will look for the video. I never thought about making powdered Garlic and I use it all the time. I should try. Thanks.

  9. Jessica | The 104 Homestead

    I absolutely love this post. I am a huge garlic fan and for the life of me, I could never successfully braid. I was also never quite sure when to harvest. I am featuring this awesome post in tomorrow’s Green Thumb Thursday. I hope you swing by to grab your “Featured” badge and share even more with us. You are an asset to our hop.

  10. Thanks for sharing this post on The Green Thumb Thursday Garden Blog Hop. We hope you will join us again this week.
    I love harvesting garlic and your post is very informative. I agree, crops that grow under the ground amaze me. I am tempted to pull back the dirt from my potatoes to see how they are growing. So far, I have resisted. πŸ™‚

  11. We live in zone 5b in west centeral Colorado. Last fall I bought about 10 head of garlic from the grocery store, sepperated the bulbs out, (we got about 93 planted) planted about a 35-40 foot row next to some holly hocks. Watered a few times, mulched it up nicely and forgot about it mostly. This spring it was there, we gradually uncovered it and watered it a few times,and then last night we harvested it. Forgot to mention that our neighbor moved and we had to have a semi moving truck drive through the garden-right over the top of the garlic. We harvested 85 head, oneI accidentally chopped in half and one hubby pulled and the top came off in his hand! It is completely beautiful and if everything works out well it will be fully cured in time for me to use it in dill pickles and dilly beans! Isnt it great when you dont have to be SOdependent on the grocery stores?

    1. It is absolutely great! I can’t believe the garlic survived the semi though! What a story. Are you going to save some cloves to plant this fall?

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    Hello there! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be ok. I’m undoubtedly enjoying your blog and look forward to new posts.

    1. Thank you! I have a tweeter account but can’t find the time to use it. You can find me on FaceBook, but I mostly interact with people here on the blog.

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