Garlic is one of the easiest plants to grow in your garden. All you have to do is follow all planting instructions and have the right planting equipment.
Nonetheless, garlic bulbs take about six months to mature and produce an abundant harvest. So, how do you know when garlic is ready to harvest?
Garlic that is ready for harvesting
Generally, garlic plants have approximately six to nine leaves connected to the bulb underneath the soil.
Thus, you can always tell the condition of the garlic bulb by looking at the leaves. Immediately you notice a change in color on the lower leaves; it might be time to harvest garlic. However, note that the lower three or two leaves should turn from green to brown or yellow.
Any other color could indicate another issue with the garlic plant. Harvest garlic as soon as you notice this change of color. Failure to do so would reduce the protective layers covering the garlic cloves.
Other than a change in color on the lower leaves, you will notice that all the other leaves on the garlic plant will have brown or yellow tips. This color change often indicates a reduction in moisture getting transferred from the roots to the shoot.
This shows that the leaf is approaching the end of its growth cycle. Hence, it might be time to pick the right garden tools to harvest your garlic bulbs.
How do you dry garlic after harvesting?
After harvesting garlic, you can choose to consume it immediately or store it for future use. Storing garlic for future consumption requires you to dry it first. Drying garlic should be done immediately after harvesting. Consequently, you’ll be able to preserve it for a long time.
Fortunately, the process of drying garlic is relatively simple. Let’s take a look at all the steps involved in drying garlic after harvesting.
Drying garlic steps:
- Once you harvest garlic, place them on a large rack. Ensure that you have the whole garlic, the bulb, roots, and the stalk. Spread all the garlic on a rack in a well-aerated room. Find a cool, dry location for this.
- Leave the garlic lying on the rack for several weeks. If you have bigger garlic cloves, you’ll have to leave them for a longer time. They cure slowly. But how do you know the garlic is dry? You can always tell that the garlic is dry once its outer surface feels rough and papery.
- As soon as you confirm your garlic is completely dry, remove the roots by cutting them from the area near the bulb. While doing this, ensure you leave half an inch of the root remaining on the bulb.
- Then, take a clean, soft brush and get rid of any dirt on the garlic bulb. Feel free to remove the outermost layer of the garlic bulb if you feel it is too dirty. Even so, avoid tampering with the other garlic layers.
- Cut about two inches of the stalks before you store the garlic. Consider leaving the stalks untouched if you desire to braid your garlic. From there, keep the garlic in a cool, dry place. Expect it to last for months without rotting.
Can you eat garlic immediately after harvesting?
It is perfectly safe to eat garlic immediately after harvesting. You don’t need to cure garlic before eating. After harvesting, you can consume garlic in its raw form. Alternatively, you can grill or roast garlic immediately after harvesting.
So, if you collect an abundant harvest, always consider taking some garlic bulbs and preparing them right away. Then, cure the remaining garlic to preserve them for a long time. Although eating garlic immediately after harvesting is perfectly fine, curing always keeps the garlic fresh for long periods.
Curing typically involves drying the garlic to extend its lifespan. Cured garlic can last for several months without going bad. And the best thing about curing is that it does not tamper with the taste of the garlic. Typically, curing forms a protective seal over the garlic that prevents the growth of bacteria and mold.
What do you do with garlic after you pick it?
Once you pick garlic from the garden, there are a few things you ought to do. They include:
Curing your garlic
The first thing to do after picking garlic is to cure it. Curing involves spreading the whole garlic on a large rack and leaving it for a few weeks. Typically, the curing location has to be cool and dry. Also, the room should facilitate proper ventilation for garlic to cure appropriately.
Instead of spreading the garlic, you can hang them in bunches of 3 to 6 bulbs depending on their size. In case the room doesn’t allow for maximum aeration, consider using fans. After a few weeks:
- Check to see whether the outermost layer is papery and shrunken.
- If the layer is still the same, leave the garlic for a few more days.
- Keep in mind that larger garlic cloves require more time for curing.
The primary purpose of curing garlic is to extend the vegetable’s lifespan.
Once the garlic is dehydrated, it’s now time to clean garlic. Doing this requires you to remove the outermost layer, which is often dirty. Additionally, take a soft brush and scrub the garlic to get rid of all dirt. Consider trimming the leaves and roots during this process.
Remember, if you plan to eat the garlic immediately, you have to ensure it is spotless. Then, place the clean garlic in your storage basket or horticultural box if you plan to sell them. Avoid storing any damaged bulbs. It would be best if you consume them immediately.
Garlic can last up to eight months if stored properly. There are many storage techniques for keeping garlic. But generally, experts recommend storing garlic in areas with temperatures ranging between 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
Garlic should also get stored in areas with proper ventilation and controlled humidity. You can also keep garlic in places with cool temperatures, like the lower compartment of the fridge.
Nevertheless, note that garlic stored in cool temperatures is most likely to sprout when taken to warmer temperatures. Some homeowners store garlic in mesh grocery bags or horticultural bags.
If you plan to store garlic for a long time, it would be best to dehydrate it. You can do this by placing garlic in a dehydrator at 115 degrees Fahrenheit. After drying garlic, put it in an airtight container. Then, place the container in the refrigerator. Doing this helps your garlic last for months.
What happens if you harvest garlic too early?
Garlic bulbs will be ready after one month of harvesting the garlic scapes. During this time, it would help if you checked your leaves’ condition from time to time.
You will notice a change of color on the leaves when garlic is ready for harvesting. The garlic’s lower leaves become brown or yellow once garlic it is ready for harvesting.
Occasionally, gardeners tend to pick garlic before it’s ready for harvesting. It can be challenging to identify the best time to harvest garlic.
When you harvest garlic too early, the layers of the bulb will be fragile. And this may cause the garlic bulb to disintegrate. In turn, you won’t collect a plentiful harvest.
Gardeners can avoid harvesting garlic too early by checking the bulb’s condition even before the leaves turn color. On the other hand, failure to harvest the garlic bulb in time will thin out its outer layers.
After a few weeks of planting, you will start noticing the formation of garlic scapes. This will happen around June.
Of course, the month differs depending on the climatic conditions of your area. At this stage, you need to start harvesting the garlic scapes. Failure to do so will affect the growth of the entire garlic plant.
You can always distinguish garlic scapes since they appear curly and greener than the rest of the plant. Often, garlic scapes look like green onions with a bulbil at the end. When they curl themselves, it means they are ready for harvesting.
All you have to do is use herb scissors to cut the scapes from the stalk base. It would be best if you harvest them immediately they curl themselves. Otherwise, you won’t be able to consume them since they will end up with a bitter taste.
Garlic scapes that are past their harvesting period are often straight and not curled. You can use garlic scapes to prepare a broad spectrum of meals, from dips to salads.
Its time to harvest your garlic
When garlic is ready for harvesting, a few of the lower leaves become yellow or brown. In addition, the tips of the other leaves become yellow or brown.
Once you notice this color change in your garlic plants, harvest immediately. Failure to do so would disintegrate the garlic bulb. After harvesting, cure and dry the garlic for storage.
Moreover, clean it by removing its outermost layer. You don’t have to cure garlic before eating it. You can always eat garlic that is fresh from the garden.