I planted three cloves of garlic last fall. After all
the ice and snow I was surprised to see the three of
them re-sprout. It is below freezing at night still too.
Just out of curiosity, when do I get to pick them?
Let the plants grow through the spring and summer. If they send up
flower shoots, cut off the cluster of buds at the top. When the foliage
turns yellow and dies, then dig up the bulbs.
Use plain water to rinse the dirt off the bulbs. Separate them
carefully into cloves. If you keep part of the base on some of them,
those are the ones to replant.
Dry the rest of the cloves in the sun. Rinse the dried cloves with
vinegar to prevent botulism and salmonella. Pat them dry with a paper
towel. Store them in a jar filled with olive oil.
When you finish using all the preserved cloves, use the remaining olive
oil. It is great in salad dressings, on pasta, or for making a very
Or after harvesting brush off any soil and hang the bulbs in a dry place
where the air circulates for a few weeks. Then pull the dried leaves off
the bulbs and then use the bulbs as you wish. The traditional method is to
plait the leaves together so as hang a bunch of about a dozen bulbs
together. They will keep well for a least six months, at least until your
next planting time, in a cool dry place after initial drying. I don't know
why you would go to all the trouble listed by DER.
I am also suspicious of the advice that washing in vinegar will remove the
risk of botulism. Botulism will not grow in low pH conditions but that
doesn't mean quick exposure to a weak acid will kill the spores. Spores are
much more robust than the growing bacterium. The reason why you would want
to be careful is that botulism spores are common in the garden. Normally
this is not a problem as the organism is an anaerobe but if placed away from
air (ie under oil) and kept warm the spores may grow.
Not also that the timing given may suit your climate but it is by no means
universal. Here (~ zone 9b) we plant in autumn and harvest in late spring.
Readers ought to always be careful about generalising seasonal advice which
is why there are so many requests from DER, myself and others, to name your
location and climate when asking questions.
i would not store anything in oil without it
being pressure canned first.
the only free pass you get with botulism
toxin is that it is destroyed by heat, so if you
are cooking with the garlic and eating the
results fairly quickly it is very likely you
won't even notice. the old time books
recommend cooking something you suspect being
iffy for 15 minutes at a boil.
[ do not read my comment that i recommend
intentionally ingesting anything tainted with
botulism toxins -- i would throw it out if i
were worried ]
yep, i just dig them up, knock the dirt off 'em
and eventually trim the roots off and they store dry
in the dark and cold as possible the best. once
they get warm and light in the late winter then
they'll start pushing out roots and sprouting.
they are still good eating, i will take whatever
garlic i have left, peel all of it that is big
enough, cut off the bottom where the roots are
coming out and then put it through the grinder,
mix it with plenty of lemon juice and then
freeze that packed in jars. it is good for quite
some time stored that ways. we've been using it
for several years like this. works well for most
dishes. you could probably use lime or other
acidic things, but lemon works for us well
as for harvest time, it varies by variety. the
most common type i grow is usually ready by mid-
summer. i also grow green garlic for early eating,
i bury it deeper and pull it when i want to use it
as a green onion. the kind i grow most of is fine
this way up until right after the tops begin to
form (then it become too tough/chewy).
It gets pretty hot around here in the summer.
Could I just wash them off, dry them out, and
store them in a glass container with a metal lid
in the refrigerator?
Does the hanging do something to them?
I was curious myself, so I went on-line with "garlic protects plants from squash bugs and aphids" and got a lot of hits,some more or less relevant, but worth taking a look.
Are you into "companion planting"? Very useful - helps gardeners keep together plants that are mutually beneficial and avoid proximity of "enemy" plants. There's a whole chemistry science about this, which is too arcane for moi.
But I do check out sites like:
There are many other "companion planting" sites.
Maybe some of our members can recommend their favorites.
yes, if you are going to store it, make sure
this may vary by type of garlic... and...
it depends upon how long you need to keep
them. if you have two heads and a few dozen
cloves then you won't need to worry about
getting through six months or more of storage.
my own experience, with many lbs of garlic
is that which was dug up, and then left alone
after it was dried out in the cold garage
survived much better than the garlic i brought
inside. the garlic that was left outside had
not even sprouted or started putting on roots
until i brought it inside where it was warmer.
everything i brought inside before the garage
got cold enough to freeze was pretty much useless
to me a few months later.
putting garlic inside a glass container in
the fridge will get condensation and eventual
spoiling. you want it in a cool dark place
with some air circulation. i stacked mine in
flats (box tops), one layer deep, cross hatched
so they could get some air, and left them in
the garage where they repeatedly froze and
thawed. once brought in the house they were
best used within a few weeks. after that they'd
sprout and grow just like the rest.
this type of garlic is what i've grown here
for years, a hard necked garlic that doesn't
mind our sub-zero weather and frost down deep
enough to freeze the ground solid around it.
what you've grown may be an entirely different
type of garlic with less hardyness for cold.
and yes, you can eat it immediately upon
harvesting. you may notice it gets stronger
the longer it is in storage and gets even
stronger when it starts sprouting again.
for maximal health effects, i've seen it
recommended that you chop, crush, or whatever
several minutes before actually using as the
beneficial compounds are formed as a result of
injury to the cloves.
So I should wait to harvest after the first freeze
maybe? Wait until the garage is below 95 degrees F?
In the winter it sits between 35 and 45 degrees F.
In the fall it sits between 45 and 65 degrees F.
I like that stronger part. The stuff I buy
from the store (organic from Trader Joe's or
Raley's) seems to get weaker and weaker
as it starts to sprout.
Spouts a yummy though!
Question: do you buy planting bulbs? Or just
replant some after you harvest?
I was thinking of buying some eating garlic
from the store and planting them, but I can't
find any of those blue ones that are so strong
and buttery that I so love. Make your eyebrows
for curing and storage:
the garlic you've planted will tell you when
it is done. when the bottom few leaves start
to turn yellow and die back it is getting close
to harvest. you can pull some of the dirt back
from the top of the bulb to check it. you want
the outer tunics to be papery and ready to cure.
the size of the garlic will not get bigger once
the top of the plant is done (so what you get is
what you get -- if it is small that means either
it wasn't planted at the right time or the other
conditions weren't right for it).
leaving it in the ground longer only risks
damage from animals, fungi or rains. left in
quite some time later and it might start
growing again. if it is a locally adapted
garlic this is ok, but you won't get as
large bulbs/cloves if the bulbs aren't lifted,
divided and replanted.
you can harvest garlic any time you want to
as the leaves, tops and bulbs are edible even
if they aren't fully formed. the younger tops
are tender and good, the stalks in the ground
are also fine, i treat them like a green onion.
they're stronger, but that is good by us.
varieties carried by most stores are not
usually very strong. the hard neck type i've
grown here gets hot enough that it will numb
your tongue in a few seconds.
yep, we eat garlic about any time we can
get to it if we need some.
the hard neck garlic i have grown for many
years was a gift from a friend in town. it
gets bulbs on top of the stalks along with the
bulbs below the ground dividing into cloves.
there is never a shortage of starts to work
with. more often than not i'm giving away
starts to anyone who wants them and i bury the
rest deeply enough that they won't grow. at
the moment i have a five gallon bucket full to
the rim of garlic starts and spoiled garlic to
i made the mistake years ago of taking handfuls
of the small garlic bulbs from the tops and
scattering them around the gardens. ever since
then i've been digging it out of all of those
places to remove it. i think i'll be done this
year or the next in getting it back to more
i plant the largest cloves from the divided
bulbs that i dig up. for me i can plant anywhere
from mid-August into November depending upon when
a garden is available. but i've also planted
in December the day before the ground froze and
it has grown.
i'm also trialing a southern softneck garlic
that someone was nice enough to send me. no idea
if it even survived the winter (still snow over
it), but it was growing well by the time winter
showed up. we'll see...
try the farmer markets, co-ops, CSAs, organic
farms, etc. as they will likely have a better idea
of where to find alternatives. the bigger stores
seem to all carry the same type of garlic (softneck
and rather mild).
as for when to plant it for your conditions, i
can't say for sure, but if you find a local grower
they should be able to help you out. my guess is
that you're not going to get enough cold for many
of the northern garlics, but you may find others
that do just fine (but whether they should be
planted in the fall or the spring for best results
i dunno :) ).
You are a wonderful writer and a wealth of information.
I have only previewed your letter and am leaving
it for when I have a change to read it over really slowly
and take notes. But, I wanted you to know I had received
it and sincerely appreciate all the work you put into
it. Thank you!
Question: the three plants that made it over the winter
are the blue garlic I love so much. Any change I could dig
all three up, separate the cloves from the bulbs and
replant them for a big crop come this fall?
Yes but it's such a shame both his little fingers were lost in that
unfortunate accident with the scroll saw. You would think that those
special keyboards for the disabled that access the top row punctuation could
be adapted to give uppercase letters as well but apparently not. Maybe
there is one that allows the use of other appendages(1) to actuate the
(1).... such as the nose