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How to Tell if Garlic is Ready to Harvest

July 17th, 2009

It’s a little more difficult to determine when to harvest garlic than it is a tomato. You have to watch the plants and decide when you think they’re ready. I planted a ton of garlic last fall and I’m patiently waiting to harvest it. So how do you know when it’s time to harvest your garlic?
The best way to know when to harvest your garlic is to watch the leaves. When they begin to turn yellow and begin dying it’s almost time to harvest. Everywhere I read recommends harvesting when you still have 6-8 green leaves left on your garlic. These green leaves form the wrapping that protects the garlic during storage. If you wait for all the leaves to die back you’ll be basically killing off the protective covering of your garlic bulbs, making them more susceptible to pests and disease. However you don’t want to harvest too early because your garlic won’t be as strong or flavorful. About 2 weeks before you think it’s time to harvest you should quit watering it to make harvest easier.
I went out and checked my garlic the other day and it looks as though 2 of my varieties (the earlier maturing ones) are almost ready to harvest. I have 6 green leaves left and after digging down to inspect one of the bulbs they looked fairly nice. I pulled one of the bulbs to check the wrapping and make sure everything looked good (I’ll probably use this bulb in my pickles). Looks like it’s time! One of the reasons I’m growing my own garlic is because I love fresh garlic in recipes. It’s hard to find good fresh garlic around here so I decided to grow my own.

Do you grow your own garlic or buy it at the store (or do you use the powdered stuff)?

43 Comments to “How to Tell if Garlic is Ready to Harvest”
  1. Daphne on July 17, 2009 at 8:08 am

    I do all three. I harvested my garlic two weeks ago. It was way early, but with the wet weather we have been having the leaves were sliming out and not drying. It is nice to say withhold water for two weeks before harvest, but Mother Nature sometimes dictates otherwise. I put plastic over the garlic to keep it dry, but it was just soaking in from the edges. So some of the bulbs are a bit on the small side, but maybe they won’t rot.
    .-= Daphne´s last blog ..Weird Weather =-.

    Reply to Daphne's comment

  2. s on July 17, 2009 at 8:53 am

    I just pulled my garlic this week too. I have officially not purchased garlic for (over) one year! I guess I do have a jar of the powdered stuff I use once in a while–either for a specific recipe or if I’m feeling unbelievably lazy :)
    .-= s´s last blog ..Miscellaneous early harvests =-.

    Reply to s's comment

    • bob p on July 6, 2019 at 6:43 pm

      I hung mine in the garage, stalks and all . Lasted all year and ready to reap my new crop

      Reply to bob p's comment

  3. Karen in OH on July 17, 2009 at 9:05 am

    I grew garlic for the first time this year. I’m also in NE Ohio and pulled mine up this week. It was HUGE. It’s drying now and I just cannot wait to enjoy it. I can’t believe how easy it was to grow. I am definitely saving some cloves to grow the same variety next year.

    Reply to Karen in OH's comment

    • Susy on July 17, 2009 at 12:12 pm

      I’m going to try saving a few to grow for next year as well. I’ll probably still buy some new varieties to try.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  4. Mike on July 17, 2009 at 9:42 am

    Thanks for this post. I was just out in the garden yesterday scratching my head looking at the garlic trying to decide if it was ready. You think I would know by now, but it is easy to question things that are only done once every year. I really didn’t know about the leaf protection thing, I had better take another look at the row today.
    .-= Mike´s last blog ..Collecting Seeds =-.

    Reply to Mike's comment

  5. farm mom on July 17, 2009 at 10:18 am

    I think we’ll be pulling ours this weekend too. I actually do both…grow my own garlic and make my own garlic powder! :)
    .-= farm mom´s last blog ..More Challenging Than You’d Think =-.

    Reply to farm mom's comment

    • Susy on July 17, 2009 at 12:12 pm

      I’m looking forward to making homemade garlic salt with fresh garlic. I’ve read on-line how to do it.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  6. Pampered Mom on July 17, 2009 at 11:43 am

    We’ll be planting garlic this fall for next year – first time growing garlic. I’m hoping that it goes well since I have a heck of a time finding garlic at the store that hasn’t already sprouted. Otherwise we usually go with a mix of fresh and a good powdered.
    .-= Pampered Mom´s last blog ..Folk Music Fridays – "do re me" =-.

    Reply to Pampered Mom's comment

    • Susy on July 17, 2009 at 12:13 pm

      That’s exactly why I decided to grow my own. I’m hoping if I hang it in the basement in braids or ropes it will last till next year’s harvest.

      Reply to Susy's comment

    • deb on June 15, 2013 at 6:30 am

      If you have a farmers market that is the best place to get your garlic. I have 5 different varieties I grow every year. I save some from each year to pass on to the fall planting. I hope you have alot of fun with growing your garlic. It is pretty easy and such a delight after the winter passes, you see a ray of sunshine in your garden.

      Reply to deb's comment

  7. Seren Dippity on July 17, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    Last fall I planted some garlic cloves that I had from the grocery store that had started sprouting. I harvested 6 plants a couple of months ago. It was incredibly easy to grow and I definitely have plans to do a more deliberate planting this year. I’ve looked through the choices in seed catalogs and am a bit overwhelmed! There are so many varieties to choose from. What type are you growing? Where did you get your starter cloves?
    I go through a heck of a lot of garlic so I’m not sure I can grow enough to keep me from having to buy it. At least until I get more beds built! It will be fun to try. Garlic and onions are two crops I need to grow lots of. One of my favorite recipes is Chicken and 40 cloves. Yummy.

    Reply to Seren Dippity's comment

  8. warren on July 17, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    We grow our own…and a lot of it! I love the differences between varieties. We harvested this week in fact…it all smells to great!
    .-= warren´s last blog ..The Happy Magical Washer =-.

    Reply to warren's comment

  9. Maureen on July 17, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    We grew it for the first time, but evidently picked it a little late. I was wondering why so many of ours had no outer coating….duh.

    Thanks for the tips!
    .-= Maureen´s last blog ..Kids do the Darndest things =-.

    Reply to Maureen's comment

  10. KitsapFG on July 17, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    Yes we grow it and in fact, I pulled ours this past week as well. It’s curing/drying as I type this. I have grown garlic for many years, but this was the first year I have grown elephant garlic too. I am definitely going to add more of that for next year. I save bulbs for the fall planting up process, but purchase occassionally to try a new variety.

    Reply to KitsapFG's comment

  11. Paula on July 18, 2009 at 1:24 am

    Thanks for the tip! I harvested some that had about pushed itself out of the ground (or was that the mole). Anyway, I wasn’t sure quite when to do the rest. I’ll check on them tomorrow. Paula
    .-= Paula´s last blog ..Look at Me, Mom! =-.

    Reply to Paula's comment

  12. TRaci on July 18, 2009 at 3:58 am

    You must have been reading my mind. I was wondering when I needed to dig mine up. How do you save the cloves to replant?

    Reply to TRaci's comment

    • Susy on July 18, 2009 at 8:19 am

      To save garlic for planting, just dry bulbs as you would for eating. When you’re ready to plant, break them apart and follow these directions:

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Betsy on June 7, 2012 at 9:56 pm

        Gosh, that’s quite a process. I just stick the cloves in the ground (in tilled rows between furrows) and they always do monstrous great. Don’t even pre-soak, as I do with most seeds. I think garlic knows how to make more garlic!

        to Betsy's comment

      • Susy on June 20, 2012 at 10:47 pm

        For those of us with bad soil every little bit helps produce better garlic! One of the farms I get seed garlic from does this for their crops so I’ll keep doing it – worth the extra effort to ensure a good crop!

        to Susy's comment

  13. Tiffany on July 19, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    I really want to do a fall planting of garlic in my garden this year. Unfortunantly I have not been able to find anyone locally who will have it available for fall. Looks like I will have to order some online.
    .-= Tiffany´s last blog ..Lots to Talk About =-.

    Reply to Tiffany's comment

  14. Harvesting Garlic | Chiot's Run on July 20, 2010 at 4:47 am

    […] year I harvested my garlic on July 17. This year my garlic was ready to harvest early last week, but I didn’t have time to get out to […]

    Reply to Harvesting Garlic | Chiot’s Run's comment

  15. Girl4Jesus on April 19, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    Awesome! Thank you for this information. And it looks like you do a Good job in planting your own garlic. Blessings!

    Reply to Girl4Jesus's comment

  16. Julia on June 25, 2012 at 7:28 pm

    I planted my first garlic last fall and am now about to harvest. . Any advice on how to dry and store garlic?

    Reply to Julia's comment

    • Susy on June 26, 2012 at 12:55 pm

      Dry in a warm dry location for a few weeks. Then store in a cool dry location. I store mine in a basket in the basement, which tends to stay about 50 degrees all winter long.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  17. Claire on June 29, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    Thank you so much for posting this! I am tending to my first vegetable garden this year, and I am anxious and puzzled as to when I harvest the vegetables that grow underground. I’ve been so tempted to pull up some of my red onions and celery, but I know it’s too soon!

    Reply to Claire's comment

    • Susy on June 29, 2012 at 1:33 pm

      When it doubt, harvest one and see if it’s ready. Generally, small immature vegetables are still quite tasty!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  18. Barbara on August 20, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    Just a thought.. if people posting would include thier zone, I think it would help me. I am in zone 7 and I know that a lot of your are further north. Your zone make a lot of difference when to do things..

    Reply to Barbara's comment

  19. Greenjeen on May 1, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    Can you harvest/grow garlic in the spring? I live in zone five and planted it in April?

    Reply to Greenjeen's comment

    • Susy on May 1, 2013 at 10:40 pm

      It will grow just fine, but it will probably be ready to harvest later.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  20. Nirmal Singh on June 6, 2013 at 3:38 am

    Thanks a million for all your comments, I planted garlic in my backyard garden, was really curious when to stop watering and when to harvest, so everything put together mine is ready to harvest, I planted last year in October. It took quite some time, but looking at the plants, itself makes you happy. They are so healthy, some of them are almost 1″ thick at the bottom. I was worried, wether it would grow any bulb or not, but going through everybody’s comments I’m relaxed. I’ll stop watering from tomorrow. I personally agree with the post suggesting about zones. It’ll be easy to understand and calculate your time. I have picture of my crop, would like to share if allowed. Thanks again.

    Reply to Nirmal Singh's comment

  21. Wendy Eros on July 12, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    I live in Ontario, Canada and this is the second year that I planted garlic. The first year I planted garlic that I bought in the grocery store (from China). It did not do well at all and when I harvested it it was just one small bulb (single clove). Last fall I planted some from grocery store and some from a local farmer. I just harvested the garlic from the grocery store and it was pretty pathetic although I did get a few that had more then one clove. The garlic that I planted from the local farmer is doing amazing. Huge plants that are over 2 1/2 feet tall. It is not quite ready to harvest yet.

    My question is, does it usually make such a difference when you use local garlic then store bought? Also what is the best way to hang and store the garlic so that it will last over the winter.

    Reply to Wendy Eros's comment

    • Susy on July 13, 2013 at 11:45 am

      Yes, it does make a difference. Most grocery store garlic bulbs are treated with sprout inhibitors, thus they don’t sprout as well. Locally grown is also best because you know they are varieties that grow best in your climate.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  22. Monica on May 21, 2014 at 11:36 pm

    I planted garlic a few months ago and I have 8 green leafs and 3 brown so I’m wondering when it will be ready to pick this is my 1st year growing garlic. Ever my hubby and I love garlic and go though it like it nothing.

    Reply to Monica's comment

  23. Monica on May 21, 2014 at 11:37 pm

    I planted garlic a few months ago and I have 8 green leafs and 3 brown so I’m wondering when it will be ready to pick this is my 1st year growing garlic. Ever my hubby and I love garlic and go though it like it nothing. I also live in California. Any help please

    Reply to Monica's comment

  24. Cathy B on June 8, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    Can you plant the pods that are in the flower when your garlic flowers?

    Reply to Cathy B's comment

  25. Cathy B on June 8, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    When your garlic flowers, can you plant the little pods in the flower?

    Reply to Cathy B's comment

    • Susy on June 8, 2015 at 9:36 pm

      You can but they will take a few years to grow big bulbs.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Cathy B on June 8, 2015 at 9:45 pm

        Does that mean that they will come back every year on their own? Sorry, this is the first time that I have ever grown garlic.

        to Cathy B's comment

      • Susy on June 9, 2015 at 10:03 am

        Well, you plant the little bulbs and then they will grow into one clove. You can leave that clove in the ground, or dig it up (depends on how you planted them originally). The second year the bulb should grow into a head of garlic. It’s much easier to just save and plant cloves though.

        to Susy's comment

  26. Cathy B on June 8, 2015 at 3:19 pm

    Do you need to wait until the garlic flowers before you harvest it?

    Reply to Cathy B's comment

    • Susy on June 9, 2015 at 10:02 am

      Nope, you can cut the scapes off before harvest and the bulbs will be bigger, but you can let it flower if you want.

      Reply to Susy's comment

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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