Tuesday, May 29, 2018

HOW TO HARVEST AND CURE GARLIC

This weekend it was time...

...time to harvest the garlic and start the curing process!  Our first batch ever to make it to this point!  2nd Man came out with me Saturday but we had to leave early for the rugby game (see yesterday's post) and then he had to work Sunday. So I ventured out alone on Sunday.  We just couldn't leave it one more week..

As a bit of background, this was the raised bed of garlic a few weeks ago...  


You have to have patience but as soon as they start to turn brown, you stop watering, this is usually about a week or two before harvesting. This lets the soil dry out and prevents bulb rot.

Raised bed garlic
After a couple of weeks this is what they look like. We probably should have done this last weekend but with limited time, well, priorities, ha. These aren't dead, they are just doing what they do.  While they are still somewhat green but browning and yellowing, it's time to remove them from the ground.

Garlic being dug up from the ground
You can of course just pull them straight out of the ground but you run the risk of damaging the garlic heads so it's best to just dig out around them.  Our soil, being a raised bed and full of organic material, is very loose so I just used my hands to dig out around them and gently pulled them up.

See the papery skin around the neck?  This is what happens as the plant dries out after it's matured.  And this is what you want to encourage, the drying of the "paper" all around the bulb.  

Shake the soil off but don't rub it. You don't want to break or damage that protective skin.  Don't wash them either.  This will elicit bulb rot if the moisture gets inside the bulb.   

Garlic sunburn
Did you know that freshly pulled garlic can sunburn? We didn't either but after I read that, I was prepared during the harvest.  Since it took a little while to get them all up, I grabbed a couple of our old t-shirts and used them to cover up the garlic as I loaded them into the basket.

Side note, when we buy new t-shirts, we wash and bleach the old ones and store them away for using around the house.  Usually cleaning windows, washing and drying vases, things like that.

This time, they worked great for the garlic project.

Empty raised bed
After they were all pulled up, this is the raised bed after it was emptied.  Will need to prep it later this Summer just in time for next Fall's crop of garlic.

And the cycle repeats (hopefully!)

Garlic harvest basket
Here is the basket on the porch.
So much garlic!

Garlic pulled from the ground
A few were huge.  This looks so good!
A great large head of garlic. 

Sorting garlic for drying/curing
I put that little cart I found downstairs last year to good use yet again.  I tried to sort them by size and got the roll of twine out and a pair of scissors.  

The first batch I tied using regular brown twine.  I kept losing it in the brown leaves so I switched to a dark green color so I could find the ends, ha!

Bundles of garlic
I grouped them in bunches of five.  Then I wrapped around the tops of the bundle, tied it off, and created a loop of twin to hang it from.  As I did each bundle, I just used some random nails on the porch to hang them while I finished all of them.

Garlic hanging in the barn
Then I took them to the barn, hammered some nails in the rafters and hung the garlic bundles  I spread them apart so they will get some air circulation.  They need to be hung and kept in a dark and dry spot.  We've definitely got the dark part down in the barn and we're crossing our fingers for the dry part.  We normally have humid weather of course but this week is supposed to be dryer and hotter so we think they'll be ok in the barn for now.

We'll just have to have faith and see how they do this coming weekend.  That's about all we can do.  

Texas Lilac (Vitex) in bloom 
The weather outside was hot of course but the porch was breezy, shaded and naturally cooler.  I can't tell you how relaxing and peaceful it was just sitting there on the porch, in the rocking chair, with the cart in front of me, wrapping the garlic in bunches to hang.  Hearing nothing but bees buzzing around the the Texas Lilac, which is currently in a sweet smelling bloom period, well, I felt connected to the farm in a way I hadn't ever experienced before...

It was a good way to end the weekend.

9 comments:

  1. Nice crop of garlic you have there.
    If you choose to; you can also braid the garlic stems and then hang.
    https://www.wikihow.com/Braid-Garlic

    https://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2016/09/braid-garlic.html

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  2. What a great harvest of garlic! They look great hanging in your barn. All your hard work and research really paid off.
    Now you'll have a good supply of your own farm-grown garlic for all those delicious dishes y'all make.

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  3. Yum.
    Well done you. We have never got garlic to that stage.

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  4. I've never tried to grow garlic. This was a very informative post, thanks!

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  5. How exciting to have a lovely harvest of your own garlic, very healthy for you both.
    I don't think it is a good idea to plant garlic again in the same bed, crop rotation in all beds will give you better results and give the garden some disease and pest protection.

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  6. Looks like this year was a winner!

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  7. I love this post and am in awe of your harvest!

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  8. Thank you. I've been wondering what I should do about the garlic in my yard. A neighbor planted it as a surprise gift for me, but he didn't give any instructions.

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  9. Congrats on the wonderful garlic. It's so very important to our diet, (garlic goes into almost every meal) that I feel really rich when I see the garlic hanging, stored for the next year. Great stuff.

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