Yesterday we harvested most of our garlic bed. We have had very little rain this spring and the garlic has come in much earlier than normal–usually late July. The bulbs still appear to be very healthy with many large heads and I expect they will store nicely.
I harvest garlic when the lower level leaves turn brown and die out with the top leaves still green. You can see that these are ready. Some even are a little past the harvest time. If you let all the leaves die out before harvesting, the bulbs will generally split and lose their leaf sheathes. Once they lose their leaf sheathes, fungus disease will have likely made its way into the cloves. These will not store.
Upon harvesting the garlic plants, I let them dry out in a shaded, open area for several days to cure the bulbs for storage. Try to avoid direct sunlight when curing as this can damage the bulbs. I know the plants are ready for final processing when all the leaves are dry and all moisture is gone from the stem.
Once the garlic plants are dry, I cut the stems off about an inch from the bulb and cut off all the roots. I then store these in the kitchen in a milk crate for use throughout the year. You can store them in any cool, dry place. Some folks don’t cut the stems but braid them and store them hanging somewhere in the house.
Below is a picture of the remaining bulbs we are using from last year’s harvest that are still good.
What are some of your garlic harvesting and storing tips?