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Barbara Pleasant: Garlic All Year

garlic curing
Curing garlic begins with a week of open-air drying. Then we cut tops back to 4 inches, trim roots to 1 inch, and dry for another 10 days. Finally, we trim and rub clean one last time, and the garlic is ready to store. 

Confused About

Curing Garlic?
Be sure to read my GrowVeg blog on
Harvesting Garlic: Happy Endings. There are lots of good follow-up questions on curing garlic in the comments thread.

After cutting my garlic scapes into little pieces, I steam blanch them for 3 mintues, then stash them in the freezer. They are wonderfully convenient when dinner needs to come together fast.
softneck garlic bulbs
Softneck varieties do not produce a central stalk, which is also the base of the garlic scape. On the other hand, they are great for braiding and taste and store beautifully, so if you grow garlic, you must try a softneck or two.  


More Pleasant Reading

on Garlic


At Mother Earth News:

Plant Now for Great Garlic (2005)

Growing Garlic (2009)


At GrowVeg.com


Harvesting Garlic: Happy Endings (2011)


Grow Great Garlic (2009)



harvested garlic scapes

It’s a good thing that I love to grow garlic, because I cook with it almost every day. Planted in October and lightly mulched through winter, our garlic produces tender garlic scapes in late May and early June, and is ready to harvest the first week of July. Garlic curing takes about three weeks, and then the cleaned bulbs go into the basement. We finish eating up the previous year’s harvest in May, completing the garlic year.

When you grow garlic, you know exactly how many bulbs you will get provided you start with fat, healthy cloves. To have garlic all year, we grow precisely 120 plants – exactly how much we need to eat, replant, and share.

Easy to grow and store and a delight to eat, it’s no wonder that garlic came out on top in Mother Earth News’ Survey of Great Garden Crops in 2009. One of the things that made the survey unique is that is looked at the storage variable, an important aspect of a sustainable, home-grown food supply. That’s probably how garlic managed to beat out tomatoes as the favorite crop in the survey.

garlic scape

Sensational Garlic Scapes

When garlic sends up its snaking scapes in late May, I’m ready to harvest every curl. I try to catch them just as the blossom tip makes a full circle, because they are big but still tender then. Then I remove the tough blossom ends before using the scapes as an onion/garlic substitute in everything from omelets to etoufee. Garlic scapes will store in the fridge for a couple of weeks, but I blanch and freeze my extras. They’re one of the first frozen garden goodies to disappear, usually before Christmas.

Like a lot of other gardeners, I've found that 'Music', a hardneck porcelain type, is a dependable producer of big, tender scapes and large, juicy bulbs. We also like ‘Spanish Roja’ (a rocambole) and an almost miniature strain called ‘Korean Red’. Although the bulbs (and plants) of 'Korean Red' are small, they are fabulous keepers, still plump and juicy in April. 

It’s important to give a garlic strains at least a couple of years to prove themselves, because garlic varieties will fine tune their growing rhythm to better adapt to the climate. For good tips on how to grow garlic in your climate, see Plant Now for Great Garlic in the Mother Earth News archives.

My 2011 garlic crop was ready to trim after only a week out of the ground thanks to plenty of warm weather. The bulbs will continue curing in the dry shade of the wood shed for another ten to fourteen days.