The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Curing and storing garlic

Curing garlicMark dug the rest of the garlic on Monday and hung it under the eaves to dry.  I can honestly tell you that there's more garlic beside our front door than I've ever seen in one spot in my life!

Learning from last year's drying fiasco, we hung up the garlic in small clumps immediately after digging.  This photo shows some of last week's garlic --- notice how it's already drying up nicely due to the air movement around the exposed bulbs and leaves.  If we had room indoors, we could also have spread the plants out in a single layer on screens to dry.

Either way, the bulbs will be thoroughly cured and ready to move to storage two weeks after harvest.  At that point, the garlic will have sucked all of the nutrients out of the leaves and roots, so it's safe to cut off the excess plant material.  We store our garlic in mesh bags we save from buying winter oranges.

Heads of garlicLast year's garlic is still lingering on our kitchen shelf, proving that it is quite possible to eat your own garlic for an entire year without any special storage area.  The trick for preventing your garlic from sprouting is counter-intuitive --- keep it warm.  Once garlic has been cooled and then re-warmed, the plant thinks it has survived a winter and starts to grow.  Keep the heads warm (but not hot) and they'll linger in an eternal summer.

One last note on garlic curing and storing --- be sure to pull out the biggest heads for next year's planting.  I'm pretty sure that the few small heads mixed in with our many large heads were due to me not being vigilant enough about planting only the biggest cloves from the biggest heads last fall.  Even though you might want to brag by giving away those beautiful big heads to your friends and family, just think how much more you'll get to brag next year when every one of your garlic heads is that size!

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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So that's why my garlic is always sprouting. Hmmm
Comment by Fostermamas Tue Jun 15 08:34:28 2010

I love garlic so much! I'm planning to plant lots of it this fall. I've never been all the ball enough before now, but I'm determined to have my own garlic next year!

Very inspiring, how nice all of yours looks!

Comment by Bethany James Tue Jun 15 12:01:19 2010

Fostermamas --- Unfortunately, bit companies store all of their garlic in a cold place, so if you buy garlic in the store, you have to keep refrigerating it and hope it won't sprout too fast. But if you grow your own, hopefully now you can prevent sprouting!

Bethany --- Garlic is really one of the easiest crops, if you're willing to pony up the cash the first year to get good sets from a nursery not too far away.

Comment by anna Tue Jun 15 16:15:47 2010
Oops, meant "big companies", not "bit companies."
Comment by anna Tue Jun 15 16:19:51 2010

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