F&F member Julie Knight digs up her glorious garlic harvest.
If you planted your garlic cloves in October or November last year, then July heralds the start of the harvest. The upper leaves will have started to yellow and some varieties may flop just above the ground and all these are signs that your garlic is ready. Garlic harvesting is a time of surprise – you can’t always see how well your cloves have split and developed into new bulbs until you gently fork them out of the ground and what a pungent scent they give off when you do!
If Mother Nature has looked on you kindly, then you should have generous fat bulbs to last you through the coming year. Once unearthed, you should dry the bulbs carefully – keep them raised off the ground on wire mesh, or hang them in the greenhouse – anywhere that’s warm and dry. Once the stems and leaves are dry and brittle to the touch and the skin covering the bulb is fragile and papery, you can store the bulbs away in a cool dark place. Hardneck types (the larger-cloved and milder-flavoured varieties) should be used by Christmas while the softneck varieties with their stronger-tasting smaller cloves should last you through to next spring. Just remember to first put the best bulbs aside to replant in the winter for next year’s crop.