Time to harvest garlic!

May 31, 2010

If you're in Texas, and you planted garlic cloves cloves last October, now is the time to harvest. Typically, you'll want to stop watering garlic two or three weeks before you harvest it. When is the perfect time to harvest garlic? Well, honestly that comes with a bit of experience. One indicator that you can use, but it's not foolproof, is to harvest once the foliage starts to die back. By mid-May (in Texas) you should start pulling some soil away from the base of the plant to inspect the bulbs. You'll want to see fully formed bulbs with a complete tunic/sheath (push your fingers down into the soil to feel the bulb). Bulbs should not be splitting.

My common garlic, which I harvested yesterday, is just perfect. Really nice sized bulbs with fully formed cloves and a nice sheath. I've got quite a haul this year. Once you harvest your garlic, you'll need to let it "cure" for two or three weeks. After you lift the plants from the ground, wash the soil off the bulbs and the roots, but leave both the roots and the foliage on the plant. You'll want to either hang them in a place that is warm with good air circulation to dry, or spread them out in your garden or on some newspaper to dry. The nutrients in the leaves will move down into the bulb and the sheath will become dry and papery. This helps the bulbs store for much longer periods. Here in Texas, with our intense sun, you're best to dry your bulbs out of direct sunlight or they will scald.


I probably let my Elephant garlic go a little too long - I could have harvested it a week ago. It has now gone to flower. A few of the bulbs have started to split just a little, which just means they won't store as long. But most of them look pretty good.


You'll notice the little "bulbils" attached to the bulb. These are basically baby bulbs or seed bulbs. You can pop these off the bulbs and replant them right now for your next crop of garlic next spring. For common garlic (and you can do the same with Elephant garlic) you'll want to pick a couple of bulbs that have nicely formed cloves as your "seeds". After curing, you'll store these bulbs in until fall. Then, you'll split the cloves up and replant each one just like you did this past October. Or, you can eat all your garlic and just buy new seed bulbs!


There are 8 comments for this entry

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May 31, 2010
8:36 pm

I harvested four of my five varieties last week, the type named Susanville looked like it could use a little more time.  I also grew Korean Red, Kettle River, California Early and Shilla. Korean Red and Kettle River didn’t do nearly as well as the other three, but still fun to try.  I LOVE trying things different from what can be found in the grocery stores. We are going to have a garlic tasting night with roasted garlic, and with some of each cooked into small batches of tomato sauce.  I want to compare the flavors!
I’m hoping that this stash will be the beginning of me never having to purchase garlic from the grocery store again! I’m saving back the largest bulb from each type for seed and hoping to trade for even more new varieties.
Yours looks great!

Jun 01, 2010
11:44 am

Question.. what plants do you replace your garlic with?  I had one 4’x4’ dedicated garlic bed that I will be replanting with sweet potatoes, since I am running a bit behind on getting them into the ground. (NHG didn’t have any available, so they are on order.)  But there are several other spots I have - 2 sq ft here and there in other beds that I’m not sure of.  What has a chance to make it if started in June?

Leslie Finical Halleck
Jun 01, 2010
3:35 pm

You can seed bush beans - they will be one of the easiest and will fit your smaller spaces. You can also seed bush zucchini/squash, okra seeds or transplants.

Jun 03, 2010
2:03 pm

You mentioned the garlic blooming being a sign you waited too long. Well, my leeks just bloomed and I assume the same is true. What should I have looked for to harvest them? They still seem awfully skinny.

Kimberley Miller
Jun 07, 2010
8:23 pm

I just harvested a few and they look like the individual little cloves above…no bulbs.  Any idea what I did wrong?

Leslie Finical Halleck
Jun 10, 2010
2:36 pm

Hi Kimberly!!! I was JUST thinking about you the other day, no joke! How are you?! Shoot me an email about when you’re going to the Pines in October and Nikki and I will check our schedules!

When did you plant your garlic? Did you plant it last October? If not, you may have planted it to late in order for it to develop properly. Just let me know.

Leslie Finical Halleck
Jun 10, 2010
2:43 pm

Stephanie - you want to harvest leeks when they are about 1/2” to 1” in diameter, which usually happens at about 100-120 days from seed to maturity. While garlic is harvested in May/early June here, Leeks prefer much cooler temps so you’re usually looking at a January-March harvest in Southern climates, if they were planted the previous Fall. Does that help?

Kimberley Miller
Jun 13, 2010
7:23 pm

I checked- planted December.  Based on chart I found somewhere.  Not good for Texas?

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