Harvesting Garlic - a Complete Guide

Harvesting garlic involves a number of processes that must be addressed properly. Planting and growing your garlic may not be as challenging as harvesting it. But with the following guides and tips, you will be able to harvest your crop properly and ensure that the yield is what you’re expecting it to be.

Garlic is one of the easiest plants to cultivate. Once you plant it, all you have to do is sit back and wait for the harvest time. However, the challenge lies is on determining whether the garlic is already due for harvesting.

Unlike potatoes, you can’t personally inspect each of the cloves to make sure it’s ready. In harvesting garlic, timing is highly important.

Factors that determine the Quality of Garlic

How to Harvest GarlicIf you want to harvest tasty and very pungent garlic, you need plant it right. There are several factors that affect the quality of your garlic. Whether you’re planting it in your farm or in your backyard, you need to choose the area which has the best quality of soil. Like most crops, garlic grows well in a fertile and organic soil. The area where you’re going to plant it should receive enough sunlight. Garlic needs sunlight to grow well and sustain its good quality. When planting the garlic, you have to keep it in an upright position and the clove should be at least an inch below the surface of the soil. Be sure to give each clove enough space to breathe, that would be 3-5 inches. Aside from the soil and sunlight, garlic needs to be hydrated well but you don’t have to do it regularly. Just check the soil from time to time and if you notice that it’s cracked and dried out, you may need to water it.

Figuring out if the plant is ready for harvesting is a common dilemma for many garlic growers. Some people would say that it’s like taking chances. Harvesting it prematurely may result in tiny and fleshy bulbs while harvesting garlic late can result to the bursting out of cloves and reduction of its pungent smell and flavor. Many gardeners usually ask – when is the best time to harvest garlic? How do I prepare the garlic for harvesting? Below are the guidelines when harvesting garlic:

Preparing for the harvest time

The garlic should be prepared weeks before it is harvested. Harvesting garlic is basically a judgment call but there are some indications that will help you decide. When you notice that the leaves are starting to fall off and dry out, that means that the harvest time is getting nearer. You will also notice that the leaves are turning brown. When you reached this part, stop watering your garlic. Try your best not to over-hydrate the plant because it may spoil its yield. Well, it would be impossible to do that when it rains so you have to cross your fingers. Well, if you only have a small area in the garden where the garlic is planted, you can make a temporary shed so it doesn’t get ravaged by hard rain. Another method to know if the garlic is ready to be harvested is to get a few bulbs from the soil. Gently dig a small area. Once you have the bulb, slice it into two. If the skin of the garlic sheds automatically, it’s ready! You will also notice the size. If it has grown bigger, you can expect that the rest are also the same. Well, this would still depend on the variety of garlic you’ve planted. There are varieties that are really small so no matter how long you wait, they won’t get any bigger. So make sure to identify the variety you purchased before planting it. This way, you will have an idea of what the yields will be. 

When is the best time to harvest garlic?

The moment you’ve seen the signs, harvesting garlic can be done in the soonest possible time. But on an average, the best time to harvest garlic would be between July and August. This is the period when we have quite warmer weather. You can also harvest it during springtime.

How to Harvest Garlic

This is the most crucial part and it requires knowledge, care and patient. Nonetheless, the actual harvesting is the most fun-filled and exciting moment because you’re about to rip the fruit of your labor! Here are the steps:

DON’T ever pull the garlic from the ground. You have to dig it to get the bulbs. You will notice that the garlic bulb has gone deeper even though you just planted it an inch below the surface of the ground. That’s normal. It will also cling to the ground because of the roots that have grown. Be careful not to damage the bulb or else you won’t be able to store. You can still use it though. Some people make use of a fork instead of a shovel when harvesting garlic. The fork will help you loosen the soil, making it less difficult for you to extract the bulb.

Do the same thing for all the remaining garlic bulbs. Then, brush off the soil. You don’t have to cut the stalks. Just leave them that way.

Before storing the garlic, allow it to self-cure and dry. That would take about 3-4 weeks. You can place the bulbs in a dry and well-ventilated area. Don’t expose them to direct sunlight or them may get too dried and may affect the taste of the garlic.

Once the stalks have dried out, they can be cut.

When is the best time to harvest garlic?

You can also remove the outermost skin of each garlic bulb but make sure not to expose the clove itself. Otherwise, you would have to use it immediately because it will soon dry out. 

If you want to grow another batch of garlic, separate the best cloves. You can plant them again by following the same procedure you did before. You have to store the cloves you’re going to re-plant in an area with room temperature and high humidity. Dried cloves will not produce good yield.

Before we end this little talk, we’d like to share some interesting facts about garlic that will inspire you more to plant your own:

Garlic is a natural antibiotic. It is used to aid sinus infection, wounds and other diseases which are mainly caused by bacteria.

The medicinal properties of garlic can be successfully obtained when eaten fresh. You can crush the garlic and top it on your pasta, soup and other dishes. Microwaving the garlic will eliminate the active compounds it contains.

There were studies suggesting that garlic can aid in managing cholesterol levels.

Garlic is almost used in any type of cooking. It can even be used for ice cream!

Garlic is considered one of the healthiest foods on earth.

It increases the amount of antioxidants in the blood.

Garlic has been clinically proven to aid in hypertension.

By reaching this part, you might say that oh – harvesting garlic is not really hard! That’s true. You should just be a little careful, patient and gentle as to spot the best time to harvest and avoid any damage on the bulbs.

 Harvesting garlicWhat You Need to Know When Storing Garlic