Last summer I planted garlic not knowing it would take an entire year to harvest. I didn’t realize at the time of planting that it is best to plant garlic in the fall. The plants actually produced leaves and then died back in the winter. I didn’t realize they were still alive until I saw the greens coming up this spring. That’s when I realized the best time of year to plant is in the FALL. I harvested ten full size bulbs and five small bulbs this year. I also have one Elephant garlic plant still growing. If you planted your garlic in the summer like I did, you will probably have to wait until the following summer to harvest. And remember where you planted your garlic so you don’t till it up in the spring.
The second mistake I made was watering my garlic too much. According to this website , it is best to keep the garlic beds moist but not too wet. The five garlic plants that I over watered ended up with poor wrappers and split skins. They were also very dirty. I also let these stay in the ground too long so the cloves started to separate. Once peeled the cloves looked nice but the skins have caked dirt and they don’t hold the bulb shape. They don’t exactly look pretty in the garlic basket but they still taste yummy. The other five plants were in a better area and didn’t get as much water. These five bulbs looked like the store bought garlic. The dirt just brushed right off when I tapped them (tapping might cause bruising so next time I will just brush the dirt off) on the ground.
I also learned this year that I LOVE green garlic. I didn’t even know there was such thing as green garlic until I accidentally pulled a garlic plant out of the ground during early spring. I thought it was an onion. Just a side note, onions have rounded hollow greens and garlic have flat greens. Oddly enough, garlic smells like garlic and onions smell like onions . If I had just smelled the plant I would have known it wasn’t an onion. After I pulled the garlic out I had to find out what I could do with this young garlic. Apparently green garlic is used in many recipes but it’s not usually found in the grocery store. The underdeveloped bulb is similar to a scallion. It’s has a delicious mild garlic flavor and you can use the greens as well. I ended up stir frying my green garlic with some other vegetables and it was DELICIOUS. I am really glad I accidentally pulled the garlic too soon. I never would have know about the wonderful new vegetable (new to me anyway) if I hadn’t.
This fall I plan to plant lots of garlic. Enough to harvest green garlic in the spring and bulbs in the summer. It’s an easy vegetable to plant, take care of and it can been stored for months. Oh, and it’s YUMMY to eat .
Here are a few facts about how and when to harvest garlic:
- Harvest bulbs when the leaves start to die off. You don’t have to wait until the leaves are all dead. This will probably result in cloves separating. If the plant has 3-4 brown leaves it is probably ready.
- Stop watering garlic a few weeks before harvest. This is usually when the leaves start to brown.
- If you are unsure about when to harvest your garlic, carefully scrap the dirt away from the surface to see if you can see a formed bulb. If the bulb seems the right size then it’s time to harvest. If you wait too long to harvest though, the cloves will start to separate.
- Hardneck garlic will produce a flower. These flowers should be removed because so the plant’s engery will go into growing the bulb rather than the flower. You can let the garlic go to seed and save the seeds for future planting. Growing garlic from seed takes a lot longer though.
- Softneck garlic will only produce a scape (the long woody stem that holds the flower) when it is under stress. Harvesting the garlic when it gets to this point is recommended.
- Best time to harvest is in cool temperatures. Early morning or evening.
- It is best to let your garlic cure for 3-4 weeks. This will allow the garlic flavor to become stronger. You can eat the garlic right away for a milder taste but curing it is the most common method.
- You will know it is done curing if you cut the first stalk and there is no “juice” oozing from it.
- Once the garlic is cured you can cut the stalks off. It is recommend you leave 1 1/2 to 2 inches of the stock on the bulb.
- Trim the roots to a 1/4 of an inch. At this time you can also brush off the remaining dirt.
- 50-60 degrees is the ideal temperate for garlic. Refrigerating garlic is not recommended.
- Eat the larger bulbs before the smaller bulbs because the smaller ones last longer.
- For step-by-step instructions on how to braid garlic, follow this link > How to Braid Garlic.
So that’s it. Here are a list of helpful websites I used in my research. Have fun planting, harvesting and eating your garlic .