Since this was my first time growing garlic, I was pretty stoked to go and dig up the bulbs earlier this week. I’d planted the garlic cloves back in October (you can read about that endeavor here). I mulched them heavily with dry leaves and watched over them all winter.
This spring I pulled up about two-thirds of the mulch, leaving some of the leaves to help block out the weeds, and sure enough the garlic sprouted and grew tall spikey-looking leaves. According to online resources the garlic is ready to harvest when the leaves begin to brown and fall over, so we watched with baited breath (did I mention we LUV garlic???), waiting for those leaves to topple over. Sure enough, they eventually did just that.
I reviewed the harvesting process using these online references:
How to Grow, Cure, and Store your own Garlic – from Old World Garden Farms
Spring & Summer Garlic Care – from Grow Italian.
And then I went to work with my trusty spading fork.
The soil in these raised beds is so fine that plants grow easily here, and harvesting the garlic could hardly be called work. I simply dug the tines of the fork into the soil near the garlic and lifted the garlic head right up. A gentle shaking and tapping removed the bulk of the excess soil from the root system.
Using a handheld sweeper brush I removed any remaining soil from the roots and the garlic head, bundled them with twine, and strung them up in the barn to cure for the next several weeks.