Garlic may be my very favorite crop. Nothing else in the garden provides so much pleasure for so many months for so little effort. Though the effort is minimal, the planning and timing are critical.
Garlic is unique in that it gets planted in late fall and harvested the following summer. Planting is super-easy and I’ll have another blog post about that later. If you want to get a sneak peek at how easy it is, check out this video from our friend Roger Dorian of Kitchen Gardens International.
If you want to plant garlic this fall, you need make sure to have a supply of garlic cloves on hand for planting. If you can get some locally-grown garlic from a nearby farmer or gardener, that’s the best option because it will be well-adapted to your growing area. Because it’s often difficult to find garlic at local garden centers, consider ordering yours online. I originally bought my garlic from Johnny’s Selected Seeds in Maine. We also offer a terrific organic garlic collection that includes two varieties of garlic, giving you an opportunity to see which type you prefer.
Determining when garlic is ready to harvest is one of the trickiest parts about growing it. If you harvest too soon the cloves will be small and underdeveloped (certainly usable but not as big and plump as possible). If you wait too long, as the heads dry the cloves will begin to separate and the head won’t be tight and firm (also not a disaster, but the cloves will be more vulnerable to decay and drying out so they won’t store as long).
Though it depends somewhat on the growing season and where you live, garlic is usually ready to harvest in late July. The slide show below, with photos from my own garden, shows what to watch for. Properly curing the heads is also important and you’ll see that below as well.
These photos are from our album on Flickr. For captions and more information, go to Flickr.