Tuesday was garlic harvest day and I was eager to see how well the German Extra Hardy Hardneck Garlic produced. It was supposed to rain so I was up and out early to pull the bulbs…under bright sunshine and without a cloud in the sky. Timing the garlic harvest is tricky. I pulled one head last week to give to my uncle and thought it looked just about ready, and another last night that was perfect.
Tips on Harvesting Garlic
These few tips will make 11 months of waiting for your garlic worth the wait.
- Tops need to be dying and turning brown. Some of the tops, not all. If you wait until they’re all brown and dry it’s too late. The bulbs will be separating to prepare themselves for next year’s growth. If you pull too soon the immature garlic won’t store well.
- Withhold water for ten days when the majority of plants’ tops are turning brown.
- If the soil is too compact to pull the bulbs without breaking the greens, dig them out with a spade or garden fork. Shake the soil off but don’t wash the bulbs.
- Immediately, and I can’t stress immediately too much, get the garlic out of the sun and into a shady, drafty, cool spot to dry. Spread it out so the bulbs aren’t piled on top of each other, or hang them in . It’s alright if the tops touch.
- Garlic is cured when the paper covering is dry. You can remove the tops now.
- Store your garlic in a dark, dry, cool space. Properly cured garlic bulbs don’t need refrigeration.
Two heads split, not bad out of 60.
The garlic isn’t too strong in its garlicness. I used a clove of garlic and two shallots in sauteed green beans last night and was very pleased with the rich flavor. It carmelized and became almost sweet. I’m making more for lunch every day until I run out of fresh beans.
Best heads will be set aside as next year’s crop. I’ll amend the soil in a new spot in September and plant twice as many cloves as I did this year. This will give us more scapes to devour as garlic scape pesto, and heads to give away.