When to harvest garlic, Cure and store it. (How to do it)

This blog post will answer the “when to harvest garlic and store it” question in clear words. A little bit further, simple step-by-step instructions on how to harvest garlic and store it will be given so you can scroll down to the section that brought you here.

The best time to harvest garlic is when roughly half the leaves are brown and half are green around June/July. You can dig out two bulbs from the soil to confirm. When the bottom garlic leaves start drying and turn brown, prepare for harvest.

I was passing by a farmers market and saw premature garlic cloves for sale. I don’t know if that has its unique use. But, how did I know they were premature, when is the best time to harvest garlic and how do I store it? Read on to find out.

How do you know when to harvest garlic cloves?

when to harvest garlic

Garlic may be hiding underground, but it leaves clues for you to know when the cloves are ready to harvest. With this, I can easily spot premature garlic on display in a farmer’s market.

First, because garlic is planted in the fall, it grows over winter and spring. So, harvest time arrives in late spring or even summer. If you planted your garlic in spring instead, expect to harvest a bit later, closer to late summer.

Also, take a peek at the leaves! As the bulb gets bigger and stronger underground, the lower leaves will start to turn yellow and brown at the tips. This is a natural process, and it’s your signal that harvest day is approaching.

The ideal timing to harvest is when about half of the leaves are brown and dry, while the upper half are still green and healthy. This means the bulb has had plenty of time to develop nice, plump cloves, but it hasn’t started to dry out or lose its freshness.

How to Harvest Garlic

how to harvest and store garlic

What You’ll Need

Steps to Harvest Mature Garlic cloves

This is straightforward, here’s how to go about it:

  • Gently Loosen the Soil Instead of diving straight in, use your garden fork and carefully work your way around the bulb, going a few inches deep.
  • Once the soil is loose, carefully slide your fork or shovel under the bulb. Try to get underneath the entire bulb so you can lift it whole. Then pry the bulb upwards and out of the ground.
  • With the bulb out of the ground, brush off any loose dirt clinging to it.
  • If you plan to store your garlic for a longer period, leave the stem and roots intact for now. We’ll trim them up later after the curing process. If you’re planning to use the garlic right away, you can trim the stem and roots at this point.

Read Also: Squash or Weed: 26 Weeds That Look Like Squash Plant (Pictures).

How to store garlic after harvesting

Curing Garlic

cure garlic after picking

After harvesting or picking Garlic, if you want to store it for a long time even up to 6 months, you’ll need to cure it. 

Curing dries and hardens the outer layers of the bulb creating a protective shell. This prevents mould and rotting, allowing your garlic to store for months instead of weeks.

Below is a simple guide on how to cure your Garlic to prepare it for longer storage

  • Find a cool, dry spot, spread the bulbs out in a single layer on a mesh screen, wire rack, or even a breathable mat. Don’t use solid containers or plastic bags, as they trap moisture.
  • Let the fresh air flow and dry the garlic for 2-4 weeks, depending on the humidity and air circulation. The leaves will completely brown and dry out, and the papery skin around the bulb will feel firm.

How to store garlic for long

  • Choose firm, dry bulbs with intact cloves.
  • Store in a cool, dark, well-ventilated location (mesh bag, basket).
  • Ideal temperature: 60°F (15°C).
  • Avoid storing near fruits, vegetables, potatoes or apples (These guys release ethylene gas, which shortens the shelf life of your garlic).

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Can you store garlic and onions together?

Storing onions and garlic together is perfectly fine! Unlike potatoes which release ethylene gas which shortens the shelf life of other veggies, garlic and onions play well together. 

They both prefer cool, dry, and well-ventilated areas, so you can store them in the same basket or hanging container. Plus, you won’t have to worry about their flavours mixing in the air.

Read Also: 25 Beautiful Plants that Start with P (Pictures).

How long do garlic cloves last after harvest?

Fresh garlic cloves are wonderful in dishes, but how long will they stay that way after you harvest them? It depends on how you store them. 

If you just leave a clove out on the counter, it will only last a few days to a week before it starts to dry out or get mouldy. If you store the cloves unpeeled in the fridge, you can extend their shelf life to about 10 days to a month. 

But a whole unpeeled bulb when properly cured and stored in a cool, dry place easily lasts for a whopping 6-8 months!

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Edet Ubok-Obong
Edet Ubok-Obong

Edet Ubok-Obong is an experienced Writer with a deep passion for Gardening, Fishing and home improvement. He shares his knowledge of these fields through this website.