When is the best time to harvest garlic scapes and bulbs and to correctly store them.
Garlic planted in the fall is harvested the following summer. Picked too early, the bulbs will be spongy and will not keep for as long. Too late, the fragile skin will make the bulb susceptible to disease. So, when is the best time to harvest? The best time to know if it is ready is to carefully observe the foliage.
Garlic scapes are the tender and curly tendrils and flower bud of a hardneck garlic plant. Those are delicious. Young ones are tender and have a milder taste than the cloves. The bulge, the unopened flower, is edible as well. Gardeners remove them to encourage the plant to direct its energy toward growing the bulb.
They come into season and are harvested early in the summer, before the plant flowers.
- Cut off the scapes at the base of the plant or just pinch the stems
- Keep in a container with some water or in the refrigerator in a plastic bag
- Use in soups, toss into salads or make delicious pesto
Mid-summer, on a hot sunny day so you can leave the newly dug bulbs on the bed to dry. Garlic will continue to grow in size through the summer until the leaves begin to die.
When a third to a half of the leaves have turned brown, harvesting should begin.
- Carefully insert a garden fork under the plants and gently pry them loose.
- Pull the plants out and shake off any excess soil - then lay the plants in a pile.
- When you've finished harvesting, move the plants to a well-ventilated area protected from the sun and rain.
Cure, clean and store
The garlic you want to store for the winter needs to be cured. The purpose of curing is to reduce the moisture that results in fungal growth.
- Hang your bare bulbs with their foliage, or spread them out on wire racks in a warm, well-ventilated and dark room.
- Drying takes about 3-4 weeks.
- Check regularly for the presence of mold.
- Wait until the bulbs are completely dry before cleaning.
- Cut the stalks 5 to 7 cm (2 to 3 inches) above the bulb
- Trim the roots close to the bulb.
- Store in a paper bag or cardboard box in a dark, well-ventilated room. Never the refrigerator.