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

Overmature garlic

Overmature garlic

Softneck garlicIf your garlic looks like the photos above, harvest it last week!

Don't have a time machine?  Right now will work.

Strange leaves poking out of the garlic plant's stalk are a sign that the cloves have already broken through their outer wrapping and sprouted, so the garlic won't store as well as you would have liked.

Sprouted garlic head

This year, the garlic harvest snuck up on me.  Usually, we don't dig our garlic until mid to late June, but a mild winter and hot spring matured the heads early.

Test garlicOnly the softneck varieties were precocious, though.  That's what really kept me from digging a test bulb two weeks ago when the garlic leaves started to look ratty.  We hadn't seen any garlic scapes, so no way the garlic could be ready, right?

Wrong.  Even though Music (hardneck) and Silverwhite Silverskin (softneck) usually mature at the same time in our garden, clearly the two varieties handle early springs differently.  So about a third of our softneck bulbs are going to have to be eaten soon after curing, rather than saved for the winter.

Hardneck garlic

Since I know someone's going to ask this in a comment --- yes, you can just leave the garlic in the ground to resprout and grow as a no-work perennial, but I don't recommend it.  If you don't split the cloves apart before replanting them, a dozen little plants will be Labeling garliccompeting with each other in the same spot and you won't get a good yield next year.

Plus, you can't just go out in the garden throughout the year and dig a head whenever you want it.  That spicy garlic flavor matures as the bulbs cure over the course of a month or so out of the ground.

Stay tuned for a later post about how well our new garlic curing racks worked!

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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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I am really looking forward to seeing how your garlic curing racks are going to work.
Comment by Mona Tue Jun 5 11:01:17 2012

Hi Anna - I'm looking forward to reading how you will preserve the sprouted garlic. Maybe chopping and dehydrating? Freezing in olive oil? Pickling?
Good luck, and I'm going to go pull a bulb out of my garden. Thanks for the headsup!

Comment by Rena Tue Jun 5 12:05:46 2012

I live in NE TN and the same thing happend to some of my garlic. I pulled it two weeks ago. Let mine dry a bit then sliced, dehydrated and ground it, made great garlic powder. Good Luck with it!

Comment by Dusty Tue Jun 5 13:25:44 2012

Mona --- We'll have more photos coming up soon, but I think we're going to take a break from onion/garlic posts for a day or two. Don't want to turn this into the garlic blog! :-)

Rena --- See Dusty's comment below. I think he's got the best idea, turning it into garlic powder.

Dusty --- I may follow your lead....

Comment by anna Tue Jun 5 16:46:56 2012
Thank you! If I hadn't read your post on garlic, then mine would be still in the ground!
Comment by Anonymous Thu Jun 7 20:11:21 2012
Anonymous --- Glad I could give you a heads up in time!
Comment by anna Fri Jun 8 07:55:24 2012

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