Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Garlic Trials

One of the garlic varieties we have growing here, Inchelium Red, a soft-neck/braiding/artichoke variety is starting to show some leaf die-back. I pulled a bulb a couple of days ago out of curiousity, and the size was decent. After pulling up a couple more today I think I pulled up one of the larger bulbs initially as these were both smaller.

This is my first year growing garlic, so I am feeling under-confident in my decisions of when to harvest, and how to cure. I figure I have two options. The first being a shed cure. There are windows, but no electricity for fans so depending on the 3 or 4 week stretch of weather I would worry over air circulation, but the temperature and indirect light should be ideal.

I put the two newly dug bulbs in a wire drawer.  The bulb on the left must have been planted up-side-down, the roots were facing up and the stem is U shaped.  The bulb on the right is quite small still, even with another couple weeks of grow time left, it would be puny.....certainly not seed stock!

My second option for curing is to hang the bunches indoors from the ceiling.

This bulb had been drying in the kitchen before I hung it today, and it seems to be doing OK.  I will follow the bulbs over the next couple of weeks and see which environment seems to be better suited for curing.  Thoughts??

Things to remember about harvesting garlic:

- Watch for leaf yellowing, when 4-6 green leaves remain it may be time to harvest.
- Best to withhold water for the weeks leading up to harvest to help the curing process along.
- More time in the ground = bigger bulbs, but it can also result in splitting.
- Different varieties mature at different rates.
- SSE link:  SSE's Garlic Growing Guide


Cantor Craziness said...

My dad bought me this book called 'Growing Great Garlic' it was really helpful! This is also my first year growing garlic. I just pulled all of mine about a week or so ago. I placed it in our sunroom/porch. It has been super hot, I checked on it tonight and it seems to be completely dry, so I cleaned off the rest of the dirt and put in the basement where it is cool and dark. I would definitely read that book though it is a very easy read too! Good Luck!

Thomas said...

I have no idea where I'm gonna dry my garlic...attic maybe??? Or maybe garage.

The leaves on my garlic are slowly dying back too. I'm so excited!

Kelly said...

C.C.- great suggestion, I have often thought of reading that book, it is good to hear you like it!

Thomas- garage would probably do the trick. :)

Erin said...

I have been surprised by my first 2 seasons of great garlic, so here's my thoughts & experience. I have no basement, garage, etc so curing things is a challenge. Not really, though, I was overthinking it. First thing to get great sized garlic is to plant it in the fall and not spring, it winters over in most zones and will have stored energy and start growth again very early in the spring, end of January - beg of Feb here! I wait until it is all brown before digging. I then braid them and hang them in my laundry area since I don't have a garage. If harvested early enough while it's not too hot they can be hung outside in the shade, or laid on an unused seed rack outside. The humidity is killer though, so if it's humid don't put in the attic or shed or outside. Yes, they smell up the house for awhile after being dug, but the smell goes away as they dry & cure.

Kelly said...

Interesting, all brown huh? I take it you don't have any trouble with the cloves splitting apart?

Now that I am thinking about it, did you just dig yours recently?

Corner Gardener Sue said...

Hi Kelly,
We live in the house my husband grew up in, and there was already hardneck garlic here. I am not always the best at keeping up with thinning it. I just thinned some today, and was thinking about trying to research what to do with it. So far, I washed some and will put it in the refrigerator, I left some on the drying rack I use on our covered deck for onions and garlc, and have some on a paper towel on the counter, and am not sure what my plans are for them.

I normally wait until August to harvest mine. I do need to get it before it splits. I'm thinking it does dry out, and the leaves get dry.

I love your new template! I almost picked it out when I was changing mine.

Rose Silver said...

When your garlic is ready to harvest pull up the bulb and, with the leaves still attached, let it dry in the sun for a few hours. For best result on drying up a garlic, spread it out in a dry, well-ventilated place until the leaves are papery, usually 2 or three weeks depending on relative humidity. Unless you are going to use the plant tops to braid them, cut them off after the curing process and store the bulbs in a cool, dry, well-ventilated location.

Kelly said...

RS- Do you ever have trouble with sunburn? I had read garlic will sunburn very easily, that should put keep it out of direct sunlight while piling up the harvest.....but this must not be your experience.

Crystal Rose said...

You have the right idea on how to harvest garlic and curing them. Garlics are best cured air dried. Just leave them hanging on a well ventilated space and when the stalks had dried, cut them off and store them on room temperature. Other people sun dried them for a few hours before drying them in a shady place.