Friday, July 8, 2016

Good For You Garlic

Soft neck garlic ready to harvest.  Two or three leaves have turned brown.

Nice and large.  Garlic has not split and will cure and store well

You can cook with your garlic fresh. It must be cured for storage

Curing on a screen on my porch.

Garlic is an easy crop to grow and in my book an essential ingredient in most dishes.  In addition to being delicious it is also extremely healthy for you. 

Harvesting Garlic

Your garlic is ready to harvest when two or three of the leaves have turned yellow or the tops have fallen over. In zone 5 that is in early to mid July.  I use my small trowel to loose the soil around the garlic and gently pull it up.  Just brush some of the dirt off the remainder will be easier to brush off after the garlic is cured.  Do not rinse. 

Curing Garlic

To cure your garlic put the bulbs on a screen and keep outside away from direct sunlight.  This could take 1 to 2 weeks.  They are done when the skins are dry and paper-like and the necks are tight.  Brush remainder of dirt off, cut the tops leaving an inch of stem, and store in a cool dry place.  Garlic can store from 5- 8 months. 

Choosing Garlic:

There are hard neck, soft neck and elephant garlics.  The soft neck is what you buy at the grocery store.  The hard neck has a stiff neck with single cloves around the neck.  The soft neck has many more randomly placed cloves and is the one used in braids.  Elephant garlic is very mild with massive cloves.  There are many different varieties of soft and hard neck. 

To start with it is best to purchase from a garden center or mail order because you are starting out with a disease free crop. Late summer is the time to mail order because they sell out rather quickly.  Once you get a variety you are happy with you can save and plant the largest cloves. 


Garlic needs to be planted in the fall one to two months before a freeze. I usually plant in October. You can mulch over if desired. Plant 3-4 inches deep if not mulching.  Make sure the pointy side is up.  In the spring it will start sending up green shoots the same time as daffodils.


Garlic likes a soil rich in organic matter and even moisture.  Hard neck garlic sends up a flower bud called a scape.  Cut those off with scissors so the energy of the plants is directed to bulb and clove formation. You can actually cook with scapes if you desire.  

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