Saturday, July 25, 2009

Garlic Harvest

After returning from Arkansas I noticed that four days away from the garden left me with some work. The majority of it was harvesting but there were some weeds that seemed to have sprung up during my absence.

The biggest work however was harvesting the garlic. This is a new plant for me and I have been waiting to harvest this since the snow cleared*. So to say I was eager to start was an understatement. I was ready to just go out and start pulling them up by their stalks. However, I erred on the side of caution and looked up garlic in one of my gardening books. In it I learned that garlic actually grows a few inches below the ground and it has numerous fibrous roots meaning that if you try to pull it up by the stalk, it will just break off, ruining your garlic. Also green garlic bruises easily and you should be careful when digging it up and afterwards.

Therefore, I used a hand trowel to dig up the bulbs making sure to not bruise or slice any. Therefore this was a long and slightly arduous process. I carefully dug around the bulb and then started to dig out from underneath it. Finally I pried it out of the soil and then carefully broke up the dirt that was clinging to the roots.

Since I had two different kinds of garlic I was careful to make sure that I dug up the first variety, Georgian Fire. This is a hot garlic which is supposed to be good in salsas, spicy sauces, or to a stir fry to add just a bit more zing. Once I dug it all up Naomi then took it to bind a few of the plants together so we could hang them to dry.

I then dug up the second variety, German hardy. This garlic is supposed to be one of the better for storage and should last the entire year if need be or if we don't use it all up in our cooking.

Garlic plants were bundled in groups of 4-5. Being careful to not bang the garlic around in order to avoid bruising. We used just simple string to bundle them together and tied them into places; one close to the bulbs and the other one up higher near the top.

Next we used masking tape (a must have item for all gardeners in my opinion) to make a label and then labeled each variety with a permanent marker.

Lastly we hung them up in the basement which appears to be the best place in our house. To properly cure or dry you should leave garlic hanging for 4-6 weeks. After they have dried cut off the roots and cut off the stalk about 1 1/2 inches above the bulb. Then leave garlic in a netted container and allow it to hang as well to get air circulation.

Not all the garlic will make it completely through the four to six weeks. Green garlic has a great flavor and I will use some of the Georgian Fire while its still green and has that great flavor. However I will allow all of the German hardy to dry.

* For any of those who don't know garlic is a crop that you put into the ground during the fall. So if you are interested in growing garlic I would start to pick out what you would like to plant.


  1. Thanks for the tips about garlic. Just a quick question: do you have to cure onions as well?

  2. Yes you do and onions are actually different. You want to harvest onions in the morning and let them cure throughout the day in the garden. Hang them to dry just not in direct sun. By the end of the day, before dew falls bring them in to cure the rest of the way in a dry ventilated area. This website has good info on Onions:

  3. Thanks for the informative post. We like to eat the green garlic with leaves and bulb too. We use it to cook vegetarian dishes.

  4. Hmm, I wrote you a comment yesterday, where did it go?! Thank you for the post with such useful information. It helps that you have a basement! Did you try to braid garlic?

  5. Tatyana,
    I tried to braid the garlic but it was of the hard neck variety and well to stiff. Although I have not grown this variety, I have heard you can braid the soft neck variety much like you would with onions. BTW I think garages and sheds would work as well.