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How and When to Harvest Garlic

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Knowing when to harvest garlic gives insight into the timeline for this worthwhile and easygoing crop. It also helps you to plan out your gardens for the rest of the growing season.

I tried planting garlic for the first time in fall of 2021. The process couldn’t have been easier!

Beautiful homegrown garlic bulbs with white and purplish skins, learning how to harvest garlic is easy!
Beautiful homegrown garlic bulbs with white and purplish skins; learning how to harvest garlic is easy!

Absolutely determined to grow even more for a bigger harvest next year.

For me, garlic was a set-it-and-forget it kind of crop. I tucked cloves in corners of the garden and they kept to themselves until my daughter and I pulled them in July.

I couldn’t believe how easy and rewarding the whole process was!

When do you harvest garlic?

Typically, in northern grow zones, garlic is ready for harvest in July or August. In the South, some types of garlic may be ready to pull in June. The best time to harvest garlic is when the bulb is full-grown but not overgrown or overripe.

How do you know when garlic is ready to pick?

Deciding when to harvest garlic depends on a few factors. First, consider the type of garlic you’re harvesting and your grow zone. Remember when you planted it (September, October, November.) Also, keep an eye on the looks of the plant. The biggest clue on how to know when garlic is ready to pick is when the lower leaves turn brown.

Garlic plant in the garden - Garlic is ready to harvest when the lower leaves start to become dry and brown.
Garlic is ready to harvest when the lower leaves start to become dry and brown.

How to Harvest Garlic

Follow these easy steps on harvesting garlic when it’s ready from your garden.

  1. Watch the garlic leaves from June onward. When they begin to look dry and brown or yellow, stop watering the garlic.
  2. Once the leaves are brown in July or the appropriate time for your zone, gently loosen the soil around the garlic bulb.
  3. Firmly grasp the entire stalk of the garlic and pull upward. The garlic bulb should come free from the soil!
Young daughter holding two garlic bulbs by her face after pulling from the garden
Here’s my youngest daughter in a funny pose she made up after harvesting garlic.

How to Clean Garlic for Storage

Try these simple tips for cleaning garlic and preparing garlic bulbs for storage.

  1. After harvesting, leave the stalk and roots attached. (You can trim to tidy up a little if necessary.)
  2. Use a toothbrush (no water) to gently clean away as much dirt as possible. Try to keep as many layers of the papery peel intact as you can.
  3. Cure garlic for about 2 weeks before storage. (Hang garlic in a hoophouse or keep good airflow on a raised rack.
Garlic bulbs pulled from the garden and held in front of some plants
Garlic bulbs pulled from the garden and held in front of some plants

Tips on Preparing Garlic for Storage

Here are a few helpful tips on how to store garlic from your garden.

  • Do not wet the garlic bulbs at any point.
  • Leave roots and stalks intact.
  • Allow them to cure and dry sufficiently before storage.
  • Keep garlic in a cool space, like your basement.
Harvested garlic on the wooden deck - two bulbs with greens and roots still attached
Harvested garlic on our wooden deck – two bulbs with greens and roots still attached

What happens if you harvest garlic too early?

If you harvest garlic too early, the bulbs may not be fully mature. The bulb size may be small, meaning you have less garlic to enjoy. Little garlic cloves also may not store as well.

What if you harvest garlic too late?

Harvesting garlic too late means the bulbs may be overgrown. The cloves may burst from the skins, making them susceptible to diseases and less suitable for storage. Late harvested garlic may store for a shorter time than garlic harvested at the right time.

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So, when is garlic ready to harvest?

Most of the time you can count on garlic being ready for harvest in June, July, or August, depending on type as well as your grow zone.

Look for browning leaves and limit or discontinue watering. The garlic greens should be fading visibly when you pull garlic.

If you want to know for sure that garlic is ready to harvest, you can always start to dig around it to check the size of the garlic bulb. If it isn’t ready, replace the soil and wait a bit longer.

Young daughter helping Mom harvest garlic
Young daughter helping Mom harvest garlic in July

By the way, you might also be interested in our post on planting garlic!

Do you have any other tips on harvesting garlic or knowing when garlic is ready? Or do you have any questions? Feel free to share in our comments below. We love hearing from you!

Happy Gardening!

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