from the employee owners at Gardener's Supply Co.

Harvesting Garlic

Garlic may be my very favorite crop. Nothing else in the garden provides so much pleasure for so many months for so little effort.

Here’s the prize: cured, trimmed and ready to be stored for the winter.

Garlic may be my very favorite crop. Nothing else in the garden provides so much pleasure for so many months for so little effort. Though the effort is minimal, the planning and timing are critical.

Garlic is unique in that it gets planted in late fall and harvested the following summer. Planting is super-easy and I’ll have another blog post about that later. If you want to get a sneak peek at how easy it is, check out this video from our friend Roger Dorian of Kitchen Gardens International.

Want to plant your garlic in a raised bed? You can learn about proper spacing, planting and care in the Vegetable Encyclopedia within our Kitchen Garden Planner.

If you want to plant garlic this fall, you need make sure to have a supply of garlic cloves on hand for planting. If you can get some locally-grown garlic from a nearby farmer or gardener, that’s the best option because it will be well-adapted to your growing area. Because it’s often difficult to find garlic at local garden centers, consider ordering yours online. I originally bought my garlic from Johnny’s Selected Seeds in Maine. We also offer a terrific organic garlic collection that includes two varieties of garlic, giving you an opportunity to see which type you prefer.

Determining when garlic is ready to harvest is one of the trickiest parts about growing it. If you harvest too soon the cloves will be small and underdeveloped (certainly usable but not as big and plump as possible). If you wait too long, as the heads dry the cloves will begin to separate and the head won’t be tight and firm (also not a disaster, but the cloves will be more vulnerable to decay and drying out so they won’t store as long).

Though it depends somewhat on the growing season and where you live, garlic is usually ready to harvest in late July. The slide show below, with photos from my own garden, shows what to watch for. Properly curing the heads is also important and you’ll see that below as well.

Harvesting Garlic

These photos are from our album on Flickr. For captions and more information, go to Flickr.

 
-Kathy LaLiberte
Director of Gardening, Gardener’s Supply

7 Comments

  1. September 2, 2009    

    How deep in the ground should you plant the cloves?

  2. September 2, 2009    

    Hi. If you have prepared the soil well before planting and it’s nice and fluffy, the bottom of the garlic clove should sit a little more than 2″ below the soil surface. This will put the tip of the clove at least an inch below the soil surface.

    If you live in zones 3-5, you should protect the bulbs from extreme cold by laying about 4 inches of straw over the planting area. Do this only after the ground has begun to freeze (late November or early December). -Kathy

  3. Anonymous
    October 20, 2009    

    I live in Zone 5, and I am thinking about planting garlic in some large containers soon…has anyone done this with success?

  4. October 20, 2009    

    Plants in containers are vulnerable to freezing; plants in the ground get protection from being in the earth. Most containers will freeze solid and the garlic won’t make it. However, a large container might provide enough protection. If you feel like trying an experiment, go for it. Be sure to read this post: http://blog.gardeners.com/2009/10/garlic.html -David, Gardener’s Supply

  5. Anonymous
    February 27, 2010    

    Could you give some information on drying the garlic please? Such as temperature, conditions and for how long? Thanks! Tara

  6. Anonymous
    February 27, 2010    

    Could you give some information on drying the garlic please? Such as temperature, conditions and for how long? Thanks! Tara

  7. March 1, 2010    

    From the Vegetable Encyclopedia in our Kitchen Garden Planner:
    Harvest garlic when 2 to 3 of the outer leaves wither and are more than half yellow. If you wait too long to harvest, the cloves will start to loosen. The tighter the head, the longer your garlic will store. Lift the whole plants gently with a garden fork and store them in a cool, dry place out of the sun for a couple of weeks. Then use a pruning shears to cut off the leaves and most of the stem, about 1 inch above the head. Store your garlic in a cool, dry, dark place – 40-50 degrees F. is perfect. Save your largest bulbs for planting in late fall.

    More:http://www.gardeners.com/Vegetable-Encyclopedia/7253,default,pg.html

    -David Grist, Gardener’s Supply

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We are an employee-owned company of avid gardeners, located in Burlington, VT.