As some of you may have noticed, most of the communal garlic plot has been harvested. Here are some tips on harvesting garlic in your own plots or for future reference. The best time to harvest the bulbs is late summer or early fall after the leaves begin to turn brown. The dying back of the leaves is only an approximate indicator however, and the best way to know for sure if your garlic is ready is by inspecting a few bulbs in the ground by carefully scraping away the dirt. You will be able to feel the bumps of the garlic cloves through the paper-like wrapping. Loosen the dirt (some people like use a fork for this) around the garlic and carefully lift it from the ground being careful not to damage the skins on the cloves as this will make it more difficult for the garlic to keep well.
After garlic is harvested, it needs to be hung to dry or cured. Remove any excess dirt but do not try to wash the garlic before drying because it may damage the skin. The dirt should fall off during the drying process. You can leave the roots on however, as they have a moderating effect on the drying. One way to hang the garlic is by tying or braiding together the tops in small bunches while they are still flexible. Make sure to label each bunch with the variety and when it was harvested so you won’t forget. Hang the bunches for two weeks to a month in a shady, dry spot (sun can change the flavour of the garlic) that has good air circulation. The garlic from the communal bed you may have noticed, is currently drying in the shed.
There is nothing easier than saving garlic for next season. Simply put aside a few of your top quality bulbs and store them at room temperature with fairly high humidity so they don’t dry out.