Time to come out Garlic! How to Harvest garlic #gardeningToday we harvested our garlic – 40 heads to be exact, only hit one with the shovel! I went back to grab the link from when we planted the garlic and saw it has been almost 8 months to the day it went in the ground. Pretty cool to see all this garlic we started from a few cloves valued around $20 (about seven heads) last fall.

We are garlic growing newbies, so I tried to get some reading done on when to harvest, how to harvest, how to dry, how to store etc. It’s exciting and overwhelming at the same time because I don’t want to screw it up!

When to Harvest

Seems like it comes down to on who you ask. I finally settled on advice from A Way To Garden. Each leaf of the garlic plant represents a layer of protection around the head. Usually there are ten leaves, so ten layers. For each layer that goes brown that’s one less paper covering the cloves. Some sites I read, you wait until the plants are 50/50 – half green/half brown, 40/60. I pulled these out when about three of leaves were dead/brown, and the bulbs looked hard and well formed. (Plus the people I bought my garlic from just posted they harvested, and I planted around the same time they did.) We’ll see how it goes with curing and storage.

Dig In!

Harvesting garlic is super simple (so says me that split at least one head with the shovel)! Just put your shovel, spade, diggery tool a few inches away from the rows of garlic to loosen the soil. Each head of garlic has a fairly large root system and will hold on to the dirt for dear life. These are not the roots you see on grocery store garlic!

Harvesting Garlic - How to Harvest garlic #gardening

Once you have loosened the soil, get your hand close to the head and wiggle the plant out. Do not yank on the greens. This is a perfect job for kids, really! Gently tap away any excess dirt by placing two fingers on the head and gently tapping on the garden dirt. As the heads dry, the dirt will fall off. Place aside for next step. Sanity tip: BE SURE TO KEEP LIKE GARLIC VARIETIES TOGETHER, so you know what you’re planting or eating for the next year.


I tried getting fancy by braiding the leaves, but hardneck varieties are a bit more difficult to do – so skipped it and just used a lot of string and random knots. I organized the heads of garlic into three sizes and bundled like sizes together. The smaller heads will get eaten, while the largest ones will be put aside to grow again next year. Again, you gotta keep ’em separated!

While I was tying and separating garlic heads, my oldest daughter was thinking of all the ways we would use garlic: garlic bread, garlic shrimp, garlic chicken, garlic puffs, garlic dressing, garlic pasta, and vampire keep aways – garlic keeps the vampires away. DUH!? She was SO excited to write in her journal about the garlic harvest and recipes to come. (I apologize to our kids’ future significant others for setting the bar so high for food…)


I’ll admit, I was sort of freaking out trying to figure out how I would dry all this garlic (39 heads plus an injured one). I didn’t have a barn, a shed or one of the many fancy Pinterest worthy drying racks other gardeners had. I realize I had about 8 months to come up with something, but…you know, time, life happens? I do plan to buy some hooks so I can hang the garlic on the deck underside next year though, until then…..

Texas Tomato Cage to the rescue! This is much better than the hammock I was planning to rig together with some old wildlife netting. I laid the garlic across the cage in a breezy sheltered spot under our deck. I put zip ties on like species of garlic and laid them in different rows. It seems pretty sturdy, but I’ll keep an eye on it and see how it goes!

Garlic Drying on a Texas Tomato Cage - How to Harvest garlic #gardening

I honestly have no idea how much garlic we go through in a year. Sometimes we use a lot, other times not so much (like during garlic scape season), or we end up buying garlic because we got a bad batch at the store. Garlic is one of those things cheap dried out garlic sucks, and well cured garlic is so nice to work with (no green shoots please.) We are thinking we might come out ahead on this crop, but it might be a few seasons to see how much we use and how much we’ll trade with friends and family. It is nice to know how and where our food was grown. This came from our garden, in OUR yard, we watched it sprout and grow! It’s ours!

Want to Try?

There’s all sorts of garlic varieties to grow in the ground or in a container. Take a look for types that will grow in your Plant Zone. We bought ours from a reputable grower at the farmer’s market last fall. Do not try to grow the kind you buy from the store. They treat it growth retardants and preservatives! Ew.

So, if you’re a garlic lover – give a few cloves a grow! We did!

Harvesting Garlic in Zone 6https://www.thesugarpixie.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/wpid-20140716_104146-e1405532446697-768x1024.jpghttps://www.thesugarpixie.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/wpid-20140716_104146-e1405532446697-300x300.jpgthesugarpixieGardeninggardening,garlic,garlic harvest,german white,romanian red,zone 6Today we harvested our garlic - 40 heads to be exact, only hit one with the shovel! I went back to grab the link from when we planted the garlic and saw it has been almost 8 months to the day it went in the ground. Pretty cool to...Misadventures and fun in the kitchen and beyond