What You Need to Know About Harvesting & Curing Garlic


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Garlic Growing Guide Part 2! Wondering how and when to harvest garlic? Find the answer here, plus tips on curing garlic and how to store it to last all winter in today’s Tuesdays in the Garden post on fall gardening.

harvesting and curing garlic

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What You Need to Know About Harvesting & Curing Garlic

Welcome again to Tuesdays in the Garden! This week, we’re talking about fall gardening. It’s hard to believe that fall gardening is already upon us, but here we are. Summer is winding down. The days are getting shorter, the kids are going back to school. Many of us are knee deep in processing our summer bounty and not thinking about fall gardening. But it’s time! Read to the end for tips on growing a fall garden as well as tasks to complete this fall and food preservation tips as well.

curing garlic

 Garlic Growing Guide Part 2 – When to Harvest Garlic

In my Garlic Growing Guide Part 1, I gave lots of tips for starting a garlic patch. Now it’s time to learn how to harvest. Most garlic in my area will be harvested in July depending upon the year and climate. It’s important to choose the right time to harvest – harvest too early, and your bulbs won’t be fully developed. Harvest too late, and your bulbs will be separating into cloves and won’t store well. So when is the right time to harvest garlic?

How & When to harvest garlic

You’ll want to dig up garlic after the leaves begin to die but while there are still some green leaves left on the plants. Take a look at the main stem of your garlic plant – you’ll want to harvest when about 1/3 of the stem has turned brown. If you wait until all the leaves are brown, your garlic will be overripe and won’t store well. The leaves on the garlic plant equal protective wrappers for your garlic bulbs. As the leaves turn brown, the protective wrapper goes away. That’s why it’s important to time your harvest well.

How to Harvest Garlic

To harvest garlic, carefully dig around the plants making sure not to spear the bulbs. I use my potato fork (also called a spading fork) to harvest garlic. It works really well. Don’t pull too hard on the stem or you’ll break it off and it will be harder to get the garlic out of the ground. Be careful during harvest that you don’t spear the garlic or bruise it. Although I find it harder to harvest garlic when the ground is dry, that’s the best time to harvest because your garlic will be a lot cleaner as you get it out of the ground.

garlic with a broken stem

What you Need to Know About Curing Garlic

Carefully brush off the dirt and either hang the garlic in small bundles to dry out of the sun, or spread them on some sort of rack. They’ll need to cure for 3-6 weeks in a shaded, dry, and well ventilated area. Curing is actually letting the garlic dry out. During this time, all of the moisture in the roots and leaves somehow transfers into the bulb. You’ll know it’s time to trim the stems from the garlic when the roots and necks are completely dried and it does not smell like garlic.

garlic that was harvested too late. sorting garlic for storage

How to store garlic

After the garlic is completely dry,  trim off the roots and cut the stalks off about 1 1/2 inches above the bulb. Make sure your garlic is thoroughly clean, bug free. You’ll also want to sort your garlic carefully. Remove any garlic that you may have pierced accidentally during harvest, was harvesting too late like the garlic in the picture above, or that just doesn’t look quite as good. Eat that first and then store the rest. There are lots of ways to store your garlic.

  • Store in net bags – old onion bags are good, or the bags your seed potatoes may have com in if you order them from Seed Savers. You can also order net bags here.
  • For optimum storage, hang your garlic in an area where the temperature remains 50-70 degrees with 45-55 percent humidity.
  • You can also simply store in cool pantry in a basket. That’s how I store mine and it lasts me all winter.
  • Do not store garlic in the fridge.

Like this post on when to harvest garlic? You’ll like these too:

Beginner’s Guide to Growing Garlic Part 1

5 types of heirloom garlic to plant this fall

Planning a fall garden

tuesdays in the garden

Tuesdays in the Garden

Are you reading to learn more about fall gardening? Check out all of the useful information my gardening friends have for you. Don’t forget to get your seed garlic and start planning your next garlic patch! Are you growing a fall garden this year? I’d love to hear about your plans.

an oregon cottage

Vegetable Planting for Fall from Jami @AnOregonCottage

hearth & vine

Dos and Don’ts of fall gardening from Patti at Hearth & Vine


How to Grow Garlic from Shelly @ FrugalFamilyHome

fall vegetables to plant

Vegetables to plant in August for fall & winter harvests – from Angie at the Freckled Rose

how to freeze whole tomatoes

The Easy Way to Freeze Whole Tomatoes – from Diane at Homemade Food Junk


About Michelle Marine

Michelle Marine is the author of How to Raise Chickens for Meat, a long-time green-living enthusiast, and rural Iowa mom of four. She empowers families to grow and eat seasonal, local foods; to reduce their ecological footprint; and to come together through impactful travel.

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  1. Yum. We love cooking with garlic and really the stuff at the grocery store is not the best. Often I find green bitter centers so I just might need to check out your beginner’s guide and try growing my own.

  2. Well I can always learn new things I guess. Like NOT storing garlic in the fridge. I always do and yes it does get kinda tired in there. BUT we have a lot of humidity and air drying and storing can lend itself to mold up here in the PNW. Still working on perfection. BUT love fresh garden garlic. Thanks for the great tips!

  3. Love all of these garlic tips, Michelle. I’m looking forward to planting garlic in our garden this year. I missed planting it last year but I’m going to get it in this year for sure.

  4. Great tips, Michelle! I find garlic such an easy crop to grow – and tuck in here and there around the garden. It’s just remembering to plant it in the fall that gets me every time, ha!