7.30.12 Garlic harvest

A run of hot, sunny days resulted in perfect conditions for harvesting garlic. 

We waited for the bottom three leaves to die back, a sign they were ready to be pulled. We began with the German Extra-Hardy; each remaining leaf represents a layer of protective wrapper surrounding the bulb.

This wasn’t a large planting, and we plan to replace it with the Rossa di Sulmona we began acclimatizing this season.

The bulk of our planting is in Music, another hardneck garlic with large, juicy cloves and a nutty flavor. With only 4 to 5 cloves per bulb, we make sure we grow enough to have sufficient seed for the next round.

After the garlic is pulled from the ground, we strip the outermost layer in order to keep the bulbs clean and free of disease.

The third variety we grow is Phillips, another hardneck. These started out small in size but have become noticeably more robust each year.

Each bulb is stripped and cleaned, then left outside for the rest of the day to begin curing. They’re then brought inside to finish curing in a warm, dry area.

After a week of curing inside on screens, the garlic wrappers have all begun to turn lavender and pink.

The Rossa di Sulmona was at a disadvantage by being started in an unprepared bed. Once it’s transferred to the main garden, it should catch up in size with the other varieties once it’s established in a year or two.

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40 Responses to 7.30.12 Garlic harvest

  1. Bee Girl says:

    What gorgeous garlic! I am completely jealous!

  2. Ah! I’m running out to the porch as we speak to peel off that outermost layer…I had no idea! Beautiful photos, as always.

    • leduesorelle says:

      We do it by personal preference; there are lots of differing opinions about curing garlic but we don’t get long runs of dry weather as in other parts of the country. Last year we didn’t have enough time to peel them and had problems with mites and mold, so we made sure that we did it this year. Hope it works out for you, Eleanor!

      • It’s my first year with garlic, so my mind is wide open. I am in awe of your gardening expertise, in general, so I’m happy to give it a try!
        Eleanor

        • leduesorelle says:

          Less expertise, just a willingness to tolerate a lot of trial and error! I’ve noticed gardeners have a tendency to give up if something doesn’t work out; we’re stubborn in that regard and like the challenge of figuring out what went wrong, and learn in the process… I also think new gardeners underestimate building up their soil and the time that takes, gives all planting a head start!

  3. kitsapfg says:

    Beautiful garlic harvest. I did mine last week and I love having them put by for yet another season. Music is turning out to be the primary producer in our garden too. Two years running now, it has been the top performer.

    • leduesorelle says:

      We did a garlic testing with at least 6 different varieties, and the vote for Music as the favorite was unanimous! Those large bulbs are very satisfying to grow, and they’ve stored remarkably well for their size.

  4. jenny says:

    Wonderful garlic harvest!

    • Seattle Foodshed says:

      Very beautiful photos. And great to know about Music. Going to give that one a try. You mentioned letting some garlic get established over the next few years. Is it a perennial? Or..,?

  5. gastrogardener says:

    Absolutely gorgeous garlic!

  6. zentMRS says:

    Beautiful garlic! It has me dreaming of garlic souffle!

  7. Great garlic harvest this year! I accidently let mine die back a bit too much this year and end up with many of the bulbs splitting open – still usable but not as gorgeous as yours :)

    • leduesorelle says:

      It’s a fine line, isn’t it? We did something new this year — as we neared harvest time, we pulled sample bulbs up to monitor how they were progressing.

  8. Norma Chang says:

    Gorgeous garlic harvest. You are to neat and tidy. Next year I should try your method, stripping the outermost layer immediately. I too love music garlic, and plan to plant more next year.

    • leduesorelle says:

      Some say stripping them leaves the bulbs with too few coverings, but we’ve so much humidity that it’s good to get the dirt off to help prevent molding.

  9. Rick says:

    A beautiful harvest of garlic. I’m very jealous as our crop was kind of a dud this year. We only ended up with a couple of pounds because we lost a lot to some type of pest.

    • leduesorelle says:

      And there are a lot of pests to look out for! It’s the reason we maintain a closed system, to keep the soil clean. Garlic pests and disease can remain in the soil for years…

  10. Michelle says:

    Beautiful garlic harvest. That reminds me that I need to order some garlic now to plant this fall. Last year was a complete bust for garlic in my garden because of a horrible infestation of garlic rust. I didn’t even try to grow any this year. I hope I can get some to produce next year, I really miss green garlic and fresh garlic from the garden.

    • leduesorelle says:

      Garlic rust seems to be a problem out West. Fortunately, it sounds like it’s something that only affects the leaves and the year’s crop may be salvageable for eating as well as planting. You’re right, the green and fresh garlic are a major reason to grow one’s own!

  11. Okay, now I am sold. I am definitely growing garlic next year. Thanks for the tutorial on how to cure it.

    • leduesorelle says:

      It’s a very satisfying thing to grow; once it’s in the ground, it mostly takes care of itself! And having fresh garlic to cook with is a treat. There are a few things that we do that would be different in your own climate, like curing in the sun. Hadn’t expected the response this is getting, will try to post more detailed tips…

  12. Liz says:

    I like your 3 leaves rule for harvesting, I usually adopt the less measured yeah I think it looks about right approach which sometimes fails me completely…. The roots are amazingly soil free – really nicely cleaned up.

    • leduesorelle says:

      We used to count 2 leaves, but that left us with immature bulbs. Mostly, we count the remaining live leaves, and make sure we have at least 6 left. It’s been so dry, the dirt just fell off of the roots — a good reason to pick a dry day in which to harvest!

  13. Louise says:

    WOW. Thanks for this, very helpful. And envy inducing.

  14. MJB says:

    my garlic is a little oogy this year! and to make matters worse, i think i harvested it a tad too early (most of the leaves had already died back, so i coudn’t help myself). and in an attempt to add injury to insult, i left is drying on the floor of my shed — which was probably far to hot during the day.
    and so now, thanks to you, i’m pealing back the dead and hoping to salvage what i can. sadly, i think my seed was the source of the “oog” and according to Eric Sideman’s recent newsletter, i might be right about that.
    as always, thanks for all the gardeny goodness!

    • leduesorelle says:

      Ooooh, this doesn’t sound good at all… the garlic probably needed to be hung or laid out on screens for more air circulation while curing, but dodgy seem might account for the oog factor… hope some is salvageable!

  15. pooks says:

    This is an amazingly helpful post on the care of garlic. Thanks for sharing!

    • leduesorelle says:

      I imagine that it’s different in Dallas, which probably has perfect conditions for curing garlic in no time at all!

  16. maryhysong says:

    What a beautiful garlic harvest. I’ll be planting some this fall and hope it’s half as nice as yours!

    • leduesorelle says:

      There are a lot of interesting soft neck varieties that we can’t grow but you can! We miss being able to make garlic braids…

  17. Pingback: Late July Garlic & Shallot Harvest | Seattle Foodshed

  18. Lovely garlic harvest! I grew Purple Wright this year which is bred for the UK climate and copes with all the heavy rain here!

    • leduesorelle says:

      Interesting variety for early harvest! I like that it requires using soon after being pulled, fresh garlic is such a treat to cook with!

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