With December upon us, many of you will be harvesting your garlic this month. Harvesting garlic is such a rewarding experience – there is a feeling of delight when you pull that bulb up from the soil to see the fruits of the past six months of growing.
There is nothing like the taste of eating your fresh garlic pulled from your garden bed. The question is what are the best practices for drying and storing garlic for the months ahead.
Harvesting garlic needs to be done carefully – if your soil is dry and hard, you will need to use a fork to loosen the soil around the bulb. Otherwise you could pull the garlic and end up snapping the stem from the bulb.
Once pulled, garlic is best hung in a dry cool place with lots of airflow. For those of you that plant and dry with the moon, pulling your garlic in a fire or earth sign will have the best drying qualities. Fire signs are Aries, Leo and Sagittarius and the Earth signs are Capricorn, Taurus and Virgo. When you pull garlic in one of the above signs, it won’t hold as much water as opposed to pulling it in a Water or Air sign. The 11th and 16th of December are perfect days for your garlic harvest this year.
When you have pulled your garlic, gently shake off the dirt and either hang or lay on racks in a shady breezy area to dry for 2-3 weeks. Remember not to bang the bulbs as this will cause the cloves to bruise.
After this drying time, your garlic skins should be dry. It is good to cut off the roots close to the bulb and remove any yellow leaves. At this time, you can also cut down the stems to a smaller size and bundle together in 4-6 bulbs, tie and hang until the garlic bulb can be twisted off of the stem. If you have soft neck garlic, it can now be plaited and hung in a cool dark place.
Be mindful to brush all the dirt out of the root stubble and to eat any bulbs that are damaged -otherwise you could be prone to mites getting in and ruining your garlic. Remove any rotten bulbs as this can affect the rest of your crop.
Garlic will store for 6-8 months if given the right conditions of a cool dark airy place. Remember to check periodically for soft bulbs and mites.
I save my best-looking bulbs for next season’s planting and keep in a separate paper bag so as not to be tempted to eat them. I have found that bulbs keep better as a whole rather than splitting them up into individual cloves.
I wish you all a successful harvest and a happy Christmas.