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Harvesting Garlic

When to Pick Garlic

Deciding when to harvest your garlic crop is not an exact science. In the USA and much of Northern Europe garlic is usually harvested in the summer months. The harvesting begins in July and picking can continue all the way through August.

Leaves

The best guide to when to pick your garlic is to look at the leaves. The base of the leaves will form the layers wrapped around the garlic head once picked.

As summer progresses, these leaves will gradually brown and die off. If you harvest too early, the garlic will not be ready. If you leave it too late and too many leaves have died off then there will be insufficient protection left for your garlic and it will not store well.

Different locations, different varieties of garlic and different weather conditions will need different harvesting dates. As a rule of thumb you should consider harvesting when about half of the leaves are green and the other half turning brown and dying off.

Is It Ready?

Don't immediately pull up all of your garlic at this point! First gently pick out one or two plants and make sure that the heads have reached a decent size. If they are still small and tightly wrapped in too many layers then they probably need to be left a little longer. If there are too few layers and the bulbs are beginning to split then you have probably left it too long and need to get the garlic picked as quickly as possible.

One your garlic harvest has been picked, don't leave it laying on the ground. Too much sun can "burn" the garlic and cause its taste to deteriorate. Instead get it inside quickly, brush off the soil (don't wash it!) and leave hanging in a dry place for a couple of weeks.