Last night after work, I harvested my bed of Italian softneck garlic. I had planted it a month later than I planted last year (at the end of October instead of the beginning), so I didn’t think I’d be harvesting until the third week of June. (I harvested last year’s crop on May 22.) However, the garlic was shouting at me to harvest it.
Here’s what my garlic bed looked like before I harvested.
I actually started harvesting about 7:00 p.m. after getting home from work and changing. I gently pulled the bulbs up and put them in the grass, trying to finish before sunset.
I pushed the dirt away from the bulb with my hands, then gently pulled on the lower stalk. If the bulb didn’t come out easily, I used a garden spade to lift the dirt under the roots. I had to use the spade only a few times; the bulbs came out easily because it’s been a few days since it rained.
I harvested 116 bulbs of Italian softneck garlic! Here they are, lying on screens to dry. (Last year, I braided them after they had dried for two days; this year, I’m going to let them dry at least four days before I clean and braid them.)
Although I harvested it two weeks later than I did last year, I should’ve harvested it two weeks ago because about a quarter of the bulbs were splitting from being in the ground too long. Unfortunately, I paid more attention to how long the garlic had been in the ground rather than watching the condition of the leaves more carefully.
Here’s what “overripe” garlic looks like. When it’s in the ground too long, the cloves begin to split away from the rest of the bulb. It doesn’t mean the garlic is unfit to eat; it just means I can’t store it for very long. So, these bulbs will be eaten first. And I’ll make pickled garlic with some of it, too.
While I was writing this article, my Garden Wilson texted me a picture he surreptitiously took of me harvesting my garlic. Seeing as I’m always the one behind the camera, I thought I’d share this pic of me at work in my garden.
For more information on growing, harvesting, and curing garlic, please see my articles, Sanctuary Spotlight: How to Grow Garlic and Curing and Storing Garlic (which includes a video on how to braid softneck garlic).
Are you growing garlic in your garden?