Is It Time to Pull Your Garlic Yet?

Submitted 5 months ago
Created by
Henry Homeyer

My garlic is making scapes – those curly stems that produce the flowers and seeds of garlic now. It is early, compared to most years. I harvest the scapes and chop them up to sauté in stir fries and add to soups. But the bulbs of garlic can stay in the ground a while longer, and get a bit fatter.

Garlic scapes are good eating!

How do you know when to pull them? Pay attention to those long green blades, the leaves of your garlic. Generally a garlic plant will have about 7 leaves. When three leaves have started to dry up and turn brown, it’s time to harvest them. But don’t wait until all the leaves have browned, or the skin over the bulb will be dry and fall apart – letting the bulbs fall apart, and store poorly.

These leaves are still green, so it could have stayed in the ground longer.

You don’t get to eat your garlic the day you pull it. It takes time – a week or more - for the outer skin of the bulb to dry up enough that you can pull the cloves apart and separate them. I mean, you can cut one apart in case of a Vampire emergency, but it’s best to let them dry out a bit.

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I generally lay out my garlic on a shady, north-facing deck for a week. I’ve read that some of the goodness of the garlic is in the stem and leaves, and that it will migrate to the bulb during the curing period.  

Curing garlic in a shady, breezy location under cover last year.

In another week I cut off the leaves and most of the stem. I tie the garlic in groups of 8 or 10 bulbs, and then hang them in a cool, dry place – preferably where there is good air circulation.

Garlic stores best at around 50 degrees with relatively low humidity. 

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