Harvesting and Storing Garlic

picture of the garlic braids Photo by CarbonNYC

You are proud to have grown a great garlic in the veggie garden. Now, as midsummer approaches, you have to know, when and how to harvest it correctly. How to prepare and store garlic bulbs, so that these collected cloves would be usable for months? Wonder no more. Here's a step-by-step instruction to follow.

Harvesting Garlic

In July, stop watering your garlic, so that bulbs can properly mature. When should you start the harvest? Generally, begin collecting plants in July to mid August, depending on the variety. Catching the exact moment is a bit tricky. You want to see fully developed bulbs, which stil contain wrapper layers. Those layers are just about to start peeling off. Leaves are starting to wither from the bottom up. When 1/3 to 1/2 of them is dry, that signals that plants are ready to be harvested.

First, remove only a few plants, so that you can check, if they are ready for pick up. Don't use a shovel, as you could accidentally cut through some bulbs. They would be still edible, of course, but would not store well. I suggest using the fork to gently move the soil and retrieve the plants. Never pull them out manually, but dig with a tool. Now, clean any attached soil from your bulbs. Handle them carefully, as any damage will decrease the quality and shorten possible storage time.

Storing Garlic

If you plan to braid your bulbs, make sure to plait them after shortening the roots, while the leaves are still elastic. Otherwise, leave for 3-4 weeks to let them dry. Then, if not braided, cut off the roots and stems. Keep loose bulbs in a mesh bag, basket or open dish. Store in a cool, dark place. You may keep the plait you use in the kitchen. Other ones must be stored in a right conditions, to avoid sprouting.

If you want to save some cloves for planting, set aside a few best bulbs. Store them in a cool, but moist place to avoid drying them out. Garlic storing is easy. Bulbs can be kept for 6 months to a year.

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