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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)?

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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.