Howdy fellow simple gardeners! It’s Garlic Time!! Today we are going to talk about how to cure garlic.
You remember way last fall when you planted those cloves in the ground and you let it sleep all winter under a bed of mulch? Then in spring, you watched it break through the ground patiently waiting for that time when you got to harvest your bounty?
Well, that time as arrived kids!
It is time to harvest your garlic!
Before you do, there are a few things you need to know. Your garlic has been in the ground for 3 seasons so it’s not going to come out of the ground easily. Garlic cannot be picked; it needs to be dug up.
Grab yourself a shovel, not a handheld one…a shovel.
There is a trick to digging up garlic, no really there is!
It is very important to place the shovel so you do not pierce the garlic. So place your shovel out far enough from where you believe the garlic to be.
The head will be deep in the ground so you need to go straight down for a good 8 inches at least. Then you can lift it up and the garlic should come with it. It is safe to say you can skip your workout on garlic harvest day, this will do the trick for sure!
Once you have all your garlic out remove some of the dirt from the heads but don’t go crazy, you don’t want to remove the skin before it’s dry. It is important to keep the leaves and roots intact for better drying.
The first step is to give it an initial dry. I like to lay mine out flat for a few days making sure it is in a single layer. Keep it outside but out of the sun to ensure better air circulation where it is warm, 80 degrees is good.
I use a plastic tray for mine but an old screen from a window works great too. Make sure to bring your garlic in at night so it does not get wet from the dew.
After a few days you can remove more of the soil, but again don’t go crazy with the skin. Just use your hands to break the dirt from the roots.
Take your garlic in small bunches, I like 2 or 3 at most. You can braid the leaves or use twine and tie the leaves together. Find a place to hang your garlic out of the way. Remember for the garlic to dry you need good air circulation.
Since I have so much garlic every year, Hubs made me this garlic hanger for in the barn. Just a board with a bunch of screws in it, low cost and works perfectly!
I just attached it to a couple of screws in the wall, far away from my animals that like to munch on things!
I like to hang my garlic in the barn, but a garage will work or a shed if it’s dry and not damp. If you only have a few bulbs you can also hang inside your home but be prepared for a morning greeting of garlic with your coffee.
If you don’t have enough air circulation you can use fans to help. Your goal is to dry the skins while keeping the moisture of the bulbs.
About two weeks should be good, but longer may be needed. I usually check my garlic every few days, just feel the bulbs to make sure they are drying.
After a few weeks, your garlic will be ready to use! Oh, and on the plus side, your barn will smell like an Italian Bistro!
Once your garlic is dry, remove the dirt and outer skin. Use scissors to remove the stems and the roots. I like to store my garlic heads in these handy mesh bags. You can also can your garlic to use all year. My method is super easy and fun to do. If you have never canned garlic you can read how to do it here. How To Preserve Your Garlic.
If you are new to gardening, garlic is the perfect way to get your feet wet. The pungent aroma is a natural defense against pests and microorganisms. Once you plant and mulch you can let the garlic to its thing. Yes, it pretty much does grow itself!