How to Tell When Garlic Is Ready to Be Harvested

garlic plantAs I mentioned recently, I get three kinds of calls from family. Last week it was my sister asking how to tell if her garlic was ready to be picked.

Where we live (in the Northeast), we plant hard neck varieties at the end of September into early October, which means our harvest time is roughly mid-July to end of of July. This is my sister’s first year of planting her own, and she wasn’t sure when to pull her garlic.

So, Missy, this is what your plants should look like when you harvest. You want the bottom 2 or 3 leaves (roughly the bottom 1/3 of the plant) to be yellow or brown.

Then pull a plant to check the size. Small bulbs or cloves not fully formed means the garlic isn’t ready. Check it in another week. Cloves starting to separate and pull away from the bulb means you’ve waited too long. We want our bulbs to be jusssst right.

Like so.

ripe garlic bulbs drying

Then you need to let them dry with good circulation around them for about 2 weeks. You want them out of direct sun and in a relatively constant temperature. I lay mine out on large screens on saw horses in the garage. Once they’ve dried, you need to gently clean the bulbs by brushing off the dirt, cutting off the stems (leaving about an inch) and trimming the roots. Then store in a dark, dry place.

If you want to plant again for next year, remember to select some of your larger, well-formed bulbs now and put them aside to plant in the fall.

That’s all there is to it!  : )

For those looking for more info on how to grow great garlic, check out this article  with lots of helpful tips and information.

2 thoughts on “How to Tell When Garlic Is Ready to Be Harvested”

  1. Hey Miss, 40 heads– very impressive! :) It’s okay to use the garlic right away. The drying is so that the bulbs will store longer. Otherwise they’ll start sprouting, at which point they get very bitter tasting.

  2. Thanks little sis….I followed your instructions and now have about 40 heads
    of garlic. I didn’t know about the drying for two weeks so I used some sooner.
    It seemed to be okay.

    Thanks for the Help. It’s really fun using my own garlic.

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