Garlic Harvest

Our 2012 garlic harvest.
Organic garlic can run you up to $2.49/head in the grocery store—or you can grow your own, and get up to 10 heads for $2.49. And then, when your garlic is ready to pick, you can save the hardiest heads and replant those in the fall... meaning that for less than $3, you can supply your family with garlic for years. For a larger, Better Farm-size family, it will take more than that. But we're still saving hundreds of dollars over the course of the next several years by planting and growing our own.

Here's everything you need to know for harvesting your own garlic (click here to learn about planting).

When to Harvest
  •  Dig up the garlic bulbs once the leaves begin to dry and fall over, usually in late July or early August. 
  • Dig carefully around each bulb to loosen the soil, then pull up the bulb by the leaves.
  • Inspect the flower stems for bulbil formation on hardneck garlic once they form in summer. Bulbils resemble small bulbs packed tightly together at the top of the stalk. They are covered in a papery fiber. Cut off the garlic stalk with a sharp knife once it falls over. Remove the entire stalk, cutting it off at the soil level.
  • Separate out the largest, healthiest-looking cloves for use as seed stock. Larger cloves generally produce larger garlic bulbs when planted.
  • Hang the heads by their leaves in a warm, dry place for two weeks. Brush or shake off any remaining soil once the bulbs are dried.
How to Store
  • Brush off any soil clinging to the bulbs. Leave the stalks and roots on the bulbs, while they dry.
  • Allow the bulbs to cure, or dry, for three to four weeks in either a well-ventilated room or a dry, shady spot outside. Sunlight can change the flavor of fresh garlic.
  • Once the tops and roots have dried they can be cut off.
  • You can also further clean the bulbs by removing the outer skins. Just be careful not to expose any of the cloves.
How to Plant
Separate the cloves and plant each one individually. Use the larger outer cloves for planting and use the smaller inner cloves for cooking.

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.