When To Harvest Your Garlic:
Knowing when to harvest garlic is more of an art than a science but after years of sustainably growing large garlic seed in the Pacific NW, I've developed a knack for knowing the perfect time to harvest.
Here are some things to look for that will help you know when it's time to harvest garlic.
When 50% of the leaves are turning yellow to brown on your garlic, it is time to harvest. Or better I should say when the plant has 5 green leaves left. Each leaf indicates a bulb wrapper. This way you will have 5 left to preserve the bulb for storage.
If you are digging it by hand with a shovel. Keep the shovel back about 4 to 6 inches from the plant in order to not damage the bulbs. I use a cultivator set to dig between each row in my 4 bed rows pulled by my Kubota RTV. This way I am doing 4 rows at once. Garlic bulbs are worth $3 to $5 each so use care to not damage them.
Once dug do a quick in field cleaning by knocking the dirt from the roots and brushing the bulb with your hand. Lay the plants on the bed as you go down the rows. And then gather them up to take to the area you will cure them. I use a barn. The main deal is you have a roof over it for shade and weather protection.
Once you harvest garlic it's time to cure.
Now its time to hang the garlic for the drying and curing process. Start grabbing plants and putting them in your off hand to where the bulb is below that you are holding it by the neck. Put as many as you can get your hand around the whole group, that's 10 for me but whatever you can grasp comfortably. Then tie the bundle up with twine or string to where the group is secure. Continue to do this in succession hanging down from a rafter or such from top to floor leaving enough room between bunches for airflow.
Make sure airflow can get through the hanging garlic in order to dry it down. This usually takes 3 to 4 weeks. All the leaves and stems should be browned off. When you go to cut the garlic bulb from the stem with clippers it should snap and be no green left in the stem. Once you harvest garlic, cure it properly, then it's ready to sell for seed or culinary use!
If you are wondering how much garlic you need to buy or have any questions about growing garlic, please reach out and contact us. We love helping people grow successful crops!