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How to Harvest Garlic

Don’t panic when your garlic stalks turn dry and brown—just harvest

Danielle Sherry, Sarah Breckenridge, Gary Junken, Robyn Doyon-Aitken

Welcome to Homegrown/Homemade, a video series from We’ll be following a gardener (Fine Gardening executive editor Danielle Sherry) and a cook (Sarah Breckenridge) as they plant, maintain, harvest, store, and prepare garden vegetables. If you’re new to vegetable gardening, you’ll find these videos very helpful. In this video, the topic is garlic.

Episode 3: How to Harvest Garlic

If you’re concerned that your garlic plants look all but dead, don’t fret. You can start harvesting garlic when about 40% of it has died back and is looking terrible. Even if you’re a bit past 40%, there is still a good chance you can harvest a healthy crop.

The harvesting process is just as easy as growing this plant—you just pull them up. But there is a little more to it because you then have to cure the bulbs. Lay the bulbs out or hang them in small bunches, and allow them to air dry in a cool, dry spot for at least a month. As soon as the tops are completely brown and dried up, you can cut them off, leaving about an inch behind.

Episode 2: How to Care for Garlic

Learn how to care for garlic with this step-by-step guide.

1. You can pick some garlic scapes in the Springtime without fear of hurting the bulbs underground.

2. Understand what garlic scapes are.

3. Remove the garlic scapes.

4. Don’t worry about yellow leaves.

5. Use your garlic scapes to add flavor to your favorite dishes!


Episode 1: How to Plant Garlic

Garlic isn’t hard to grow. In fact, growing garlic plants is almost ridiculously easy. It has a few important requirements that are easily met: decent soil, adequate moisture, and, of course, planting and harvesting at the right time.

When is the right time for planting garlic? Plant garlic four to six weeks before the ground freezes in your area. You can fudge the planting time a little. I have planted as early as September (by mistake) and as late as Thanksgiving (to experiment) and have had decent crops. Roots will start to grow soon after you plant. Your aim is to get good root development before the plants go dormant. Green shoots may appear in the fall, which is fine.

Previous: How to Care for Garlic Next: Tips for Harvesting Garlic
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  1. anacortesgardener 08/06/2021

    Pull up? Yikes. I always use a spade fork (plunged in at a safe distance to avoid contacting the bulbs) to loosen the soil and lift them out. After a long stretch without watering after cutting off the hardneck scapes, the soil is generally compacted, and tugging the bulbs out would be a struggle. (Then again, I don't mulch with straw; perhaps that would keep the soil more loose?) I love the results, so maybe it's different strokes for different folks.

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