Harvesting Garlic

It’s late July, and we are pulling the garlic. A good friend of mine who lives near Stoneridge, NY., got the garlic bug a few years ago, and planted several acres of it. She cured her garlic by braiding it and hanging it in her old barn. She gave me several different types of garlic- a German red which was a hard neck and later a French white which was a soft neck and there were two others which I have forgotten the names. The hard neck variety do very well in upstate New York, and have a stronger flavor than the soft neck. The shelf life is usually about 5-6 months, but mine have lasted for a full year in a cool basement (low 50’s). The hard necks usually have about 4-6 cloves per bulb. The soft neck bulbs are the ones that you usually see braided into those beautiful shapes and have many more cloves per bulb.  I am now onto my third or fourth season with excellent results.

After we pull the garlic, we cure it (if the weather is good)  on our dry stonewalls which are warm and get a lot of air circulation. This year due to rain, we have laid it out on an old ladder under the porch. It will take a couple of days for the soil to dry out on the bulbs and then it’s easy to dust off any remaining particles before you tie it up or braid it.  Part of the new crop will be used for replanting in late autumn.

The oldest part of my house has a dirt floor and stone walls dating back to 1840. For years, I have thought about covering it over with concrete, but I think the humidity helps balance the dry air caused by the furnace.  High humidity is excellent for wine storage because you do not want the corks drying out and as it turns out- for garlic. My garlic lasts a full year stored in the basement and does not dry out or get moldy.

Pulling garlic once the tops start turning brown

Curing garlic on an old ladder under the porch-out of the weather

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4 Responses to Harvesting Garlic

  1. Barbara Hill says:

    That’s a lot of garlic! Do you know how hard it is to find U.S. grown garlic powder around here? It’s all grown in China these days. We finally resorted to having my mother-in-law send us some from Trader Joe’s in California.

  2. Don Statham says:

    Hey Barb,

    I didn’t know that but I am going to ask next time I buy it in the health Food store.

  3. Deb says:

    I’m so envious! For some reason, I can’t grow garlic. How can that be? My dad had garlic growing all over the place, and from what I remember, he never did a thing to help it. What do you suppose my problem is? Perhaps not enough water. I’m very stingy with water. Which evidently works fine for okra. Okra seems to thrive in harsh conditions.

  4. Don Statham says:

    Hey Deb,
    My first question would be is when do you plant your garlic? We always plant our garlic late fall before the first snow. You want to get them in right before the weather turns bad. Like most bulbs /clove in this case you should plant them 3 times the depth of the bulb. The bulbs will start putting roots down in the fall, but you don’t want them growing above ground and that’s why it’s important to wait until the last minute.

    They start growing first thing in the spring and by early summer you will see the garlic scapes which by the way make an excellent pesto. Few weeks later the leaves will start turning brown and that’s an indication that the garlic is ready for harvesting! I would definitely try again to grow them because your garlic is going to taste so much better!

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