Monday, July 2, 2012


Last week Ohio (and much of the US) suffered a major heatwave on the heels of very little rain.  Yards are yellow and brown.  Plants are yellow and brown.  And I was having some growing concerns about some of the garlic in our garden, which had gone from green and upright to yellow and nearly horizontal in a very short time.  The scapes have not come, and I was worried that the garlic was basically dead.  Everything I've read said that you should harvest the garlic when it has "a few" green leaves remaining.  Some of these had none.  So at two o'clock on an already ninety-degree day, I did what any sensible person would do - started digging.

It is important to dig the garlic because if you try to just yank it out of the ground, you will likely end up with a green (or, in this case, yellow-brown) stalk in your hand, and a head of garlic stuck in the ground.  So, trowel in hand, I attacked the worst of the garlic.  I lost 3 due to me accidentally impaling them on my little shovel (but it did give me a sneak preview of their scent.  STRONG.), but the rest came out unscathed.  Some are rather small, some are the size you'd see at the grocery store.  I figure I can keep the very small ones to plant next year.  That is one great thing about garlic - if you do things right, you really only have to buy it once.

So, all told, I harvested perhaps 1/3 of our crop - I left anything that is still predominantly green still standing and will keep an eye out.   I'd be very sad if we had no scapes, but at this point, in what I am calling a drought (though I do not know if the meteorologists have deemed it such), my main concern is that the garlic (and everything else) simply survives!

Once you've harvested garlic, it needs to "cure" in a hot, dry place for several weeks.  I found a great step-by-step video online about how to braid it for easier hanging.  Unfortunately, I found this video after I attempted to braid it.  While I don't think any Italian restaurants will come calling to purchase my garlic for its aesthetics, I managed to create three serviceable clumps that will hang in our garage (which, any moment now, will smell like a pizza place) until they are ready.

You'll notice they are pretty dirty... you do not want to wash the garlic!  Brush off as much dirt as possible, trim off the roots (the hairy-looking stuff attached to the bulb) and then get them dry.  Once they dry completely, you'll be able to brush off more of the dirt.  Instead of hanging, I have also read that you can spread the garlic out on an old screen - but you'd still want to keep it in a warm, dry place.  I am not sure what you do if you don't want your garage to smell like garlic... that's the only warm, dry place I know.  Probably, if you are averse to the smell of garlic, you don't want to plant 90 bulbs.

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