Garlic Harvest

Happy Solstice (Summer or Winter, wherever you may be)!

We planted our garlic six months ago atop rows full of semi-fresh fish guts. If you doubt the power of fish guts, the garlic we harvested is two to three times the size of the seed garlic we started out with! (And no, this is not elephant garlic/leek.) Some of them look like medium sized onions!

I knew, in theory, that growing garlic should be easy, but neither Becky nor I had ever tried to grow it. There’s nothing quite like making it happen for real! We both had a sense of great accomplishment as we pulled these precious bulbs out of the soil.

Becky and I stood there, looking at our bounty. I couldn’t believe it, actually. This is the best garlic I’ve ever seen and this was just our first try! Our cows were looking back at us from up in the paddock—probably wondering what all the excitement was about—and I could hear our goatlings bleating happily away nearby. I had a sense of well being that was so deep and profound that I don’t ever recall having such an experience in the past.

Garlic as religious experience? Hmm… 😉

Well, enough yammering about it. Here’s an extra big picture to make your mouth water:

Harvesting heirloom garlic

We’ve read several theories about drying and preserving methods for freshly harvested garlic. What do you guys think: Take the roots off, or leave them on? If you take them off, when?

9 Responses to “Garlic Harvest”

  1. George says:

    I pull the garlic, and lay it back down on the ground for a day or so. I do not wash it or cut off any roots.

    After a day or so, then I tie it up in bundles with sisal twine by their slightly wilted green tops with the bulbs down, and sort of staggered so that all of the bulbs are at slightly different lengths, eight to twelve to a bunch, and hang them in an open area, under a roof of some sort. (Like a porch or open shed.)

    By late summer, most of the dirt will have blown or fallen off, and then I cut off the tops, leaving a short piece of the stem above the bulb, and store them in a cool dry dark place. If left in the light they will start to sprout by late fall, which is the time to replant some for next year.

    I am sure that there are other methods, but this has worked for me.

    Enjoy them!

  2. rich says:

    We’ve dried them both ways, roots on and off, and didn’t find any difference. (Roots off is more cosmetically appealing for market). Hang them up in a shady, well ventilated place for a few weeks or more, depending on your humidity, to cure them down.

    They look great….yum, fresh garlic

  3. Doug Mitchell says:

    Actually, I must first make a noise about the glorious new image in the big page banner above, replacing an attractive and appropriate leaf with a personal favorite from the garden. All my life, when asked my favorite color, I would try to explain the tone that washes over you standing beneath a spring canopy of leaves in full sun. That EXACT color, my earliest memory of which is a recurrent glimpse from a very early age. A freshly-picked peapod, the hull not the peas, associated itself somewhere along the way.

    I’ll probably load Farmlet more often just to look at the new banner… =]

    On garlic, Anita put down her first garlic last year, planting it in the fall (November), as is recommended for best results at our latitude (50.06 N) and in our low-mountainous clime, with excellent results.

    We are slowly (gently?) diversifying the crops grown here at Scholzenhaus, even as we absorb local folk wisdom from Mia, the great and wise garden master and Jupp, a farmer from the late fifties until he “retired” in 1997.

    There’s no underestimating the value of such acquired knowledge, filtered through the heads & hearts of previous generations. If we truly “are what we eat”, then in a very straightforward way the wife’s parents are literally made up of this place.

    And THAT is what I find so rewarding about kissing off the “civilized” lifestyle and breaking a few hand tools. Not only does it taste better (a massive understatement), but one can actually SEE — and perhaps more importantly, care for — that place. It’s called your garden.

    For the bulk of my life back in the states, all thirty-six years of it, I maintained regular contact with dirt. At a bare minimum, there were always houseplants and a small cactus garden or somesuch decorating every abode. However, for all my green-thumbishness, I never committed the time necessary (or had it to commit) to a production garden.

    One of my/our major goals in our own relocation and re-learning exercise was to invert this sad ratio. Which we’ve succeeded in doing in spades, while also bringing bits like garlic to the garden and chili peppers to the greenhouse.

    We’re not out to change the world. More accurately, it is changing us, as we care for and become friendly with our own patch of dirt.

  4. limukala says:

    In my experience garlic tends to last longer with the roots on.

  5. tochigi says:

    I haven’t grown garlic myself, but I have seen other people growing and storing it, and they did it EXACTLY as George describes above. So he gets my vote.

  6. auntiegrav says:

    We do both, but most of the roots come off with our heavy clay soil. Last year was our first year with a garlic harvest, and we mostly pulled it, knocked the dirt off, and hung it in the barn to cure and dry with the full stem length unless they break off. At the market, it makes a nice display, even though most people want it cut down to fit in a bag. The bulbules on the tips are good for planting (I’m told) and also for cooking/eating.
    Beautiful pictures, Thanks.

  7. anne says:

    we’ve been told to let our garlic flower, cut off the flower and …. then what? my source didn’t get to telling me that bit. and is he on the right track? great site, i’ve been trolling around having a good nosey. thanks and merry christmas to everyone.

  8. Anya says:

    Who sells organic garlic bulbs for planting?

  9. Rebecca says:

    Hi Anya,
    I believe Koanga Gardens sell them, though you may have to order ahead. Where are you and how much garlic are you after? If you are up near Kaitaia, I may be able to put you in touch with someone local. Not sure about this, though, as I think they’ve often sold all their extra garlic well before this time of year.
    Good luck.