Solstice Harvest: Garlic

Traditionally, garlic is harvested on the longest day of the year – our summer solstice. If you planted your garlic on time (October – December) your crop should ready by this time. And you will be grateful for those extra hours of daylight – pulling garlic can be a hard, long day’s work – but the rewards are lasting. Harvesting garlic always feels like building a bank account to me – alot of work upfront, but then you have a stock of something valuable – food that will keep for many months and always be useful. What worthwhile recipe doesn’t rely on garlic?

Note sure if your bulbs are ready to come out? Here are some guidelines to harvesting and curing your garlic properly.

  • Know your varieties. Two broad categories of garlic exist: hardneck and softneck. Hardnecks will produce a scape. The scape should be harvested roughly 3 weeks before the bulbs come out of the ground. This way, the plant will know to send its energy down, instead of up, producing nice, big cloves.
  • Bulbs are generally ready when about half of the plant’s green leaves have turned papery and brown. These are your clove wrappers.
    Take a look! the best way to know if your garlic is ready, is to dig up a head and examine its qualities. The bulb should look full, or “dropped,” and in proportion to the neck.
  • Garlic can, of course, be eaten as soon as it is pulled. If you would like to store it, however, it must be cured. To cure garlic, lay the bulbs in a single layer in a cool, dry space with good airflow. Bundles of garlic can also be hung from rafters and dried this way. After 3 weeks, the garlic should feel very dry and you should be able to easily remove any dirt or excess papery skins with a gentle rub with your thumb. Snip the roots and the neck.
  • Always store good garlic at room temperature. Do not refrigerate!