Saturday, August 8, 2009

When to Harvest Garlic:Tips, How to Cure and Store

Harvest Garlic

When to harvest garlic depends on a number of things. Garlic was ready for harvest here within the last several days. It has been a cool and rainy growing season and it seems the garlic harvest is later than usual this year, at least in the garden here.

The trick of when to harvest garlic, which was planted last October, is to watch the leaves. When about half of the leaves on the garlic have turned brown, it is ready to dig, cure and store. If the garlic is harvested too early, it won't store well, and if the garlic is harvested too late (when all the leaves have turned brown), the cloves fall apart and will not keep well. I think the taste isn't quite as good either.

Knowing when to harvest garlic is part of the story, only the first step. There are more tricks to remember to keep healthy garlic throughout the winter: cure the garlic, storage for winter use, and re-planting in late September or October. Following the general tips of when to harvest garlic, how to cure and storage will save money, provides more nutritional and health benefits and good home cooked meals.

Harvest Garlic: Dig Garlic

A good shovel or spade is important to have for the garlic harvest. Garlic bulbs don't pull out of the ground very easily. To harvest garlic requires some patience with the shovel since it is easy to slice through a clove. And once the garlic is out of the ground, even more patience is needed. Garlic can bruise very easily at this stage and it needs to be carefully placed in the shade as soon as possible. Garlic will get sunburned if left in the direct sun and it will spoil.

The two beds of hard neck garlic I plant have about 500 garlic bulbs each and one smaller one with about 100. The harvest is staged over several days. Once the garlic has been harvested and, if the weather cooperates, it is next hung on the clothesline in the shade. The dirt dries easily and can be brushed off. It only takes a couple hours; quicker with a breeze.

Harvest Garlic: Curing the Garlic

Then the garlic bulbs are hung in the tool shed to cure for several weeks. I keep the stems and roots on during this stage and trim them after a month or so. Then, they are placed inside in a dark, cool closet, a cellar in a cool spot would be great. Garlic is best stored at about 50 degrees F.

Consumer Note: The garlic purchased at the supermarket is stored at 32 F because of federal regulations. This is one reason why it sprouts soon after it purchased. When the garlic is placed on the shelves in the supermarket, the temperature is much warmer and the garlic want to begin it's growth cycle. If garlic is purchased, it will last much longer if it is not placed in a refrigerator.

Harvest Garlic: Big Garlic Bulbs and Smaller Garlic Bulbs

During the garlic harvest, separate the largest bulbs. These are the seed stock to be planted late next month. The largest cloves, after the bulbs are separated, produce the larger bulbs when it comes time to harvest garlic.

This year, the smaller bulbs are going to be dried in the dehydrator for homemade garlic powder. Never tried before so this will be an experiment. But I am betting it will be far more superior to store boughten garlic powder.

The smaller cloves can also be pickled. There are some good recipes for this. I usually add some really hot peppers to the jar (maybe my own creation but I like it). The larger bulbs, the ones not used for replanting are stored, for winter culinary experiments.

For the Heck of It.

A new study about rooks, birds once called crows, finds they are actually very intelligent and proves one of Aesop's fables fairly accurate.

Blogs I like to read:

Vincent di Fondi - Vincent just published his first novel, Blessed Abduction, available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. See his blog for good reading and more information on the novel.

On Your Way to the Top – Kathleen Richardson is a fellow writer at Helium. She is also a pretty good poet. The link is a good poem about the death of a parent.

New York's Southern Tier – A travel destination Blog also written by Richardson. If you are going to be in that area, check out what to do and see.

Urban Veggie Blog – Dan's been cooking up a storm with his vegetable garden.

Some of the articles I have written are at HubPages below. Others at Helium can be found clicking the title.

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