How to Tell When Garlic is Ready to Harvest

Garlic can typically be harvested during late summer or early autumn, depending on weather conditions, with warm temperatures hastening growth while lower temps retard it.

An early indicator that it’s time for harvesting is when the scape (a green stem that protrudes from hardneck varieties of garlic plants) begins to form; usually this happens about one week prior.


Garlic growers generally believe that its leaves are ready for harvest when their bottom leaves begin to turn brown, beginning from the bottom up. This typically happens between late summer and early fall depending on whether the garlic was planted during autumn or spring planting season; different varieties mature at different rates; thus there are no set rules about when garlic should be harvested.

Garlic should be allowed to grow until its heads double in size, which varies depending on variety. However, it’s also important to harvest these plants quickly or they could result in smaller bulbs which sell and store poorly.

Each flat garlic leaf above ground represents a potential papery wrapper for protecting mature bulbs. When these leaf wrappers fully develop, they contribute greatly to both flavor and quality of harvested garlic; however, if left in the soil for too long they begin decomposing and diminish its quality.

As harvest time nears, it’s crucial that you know when the leaves are ready for picking. A general guideline for harvesting garlic would be when approximately one third of its height has begun to show signs of brown and shriveling leaves; this should serve as an early indicator that its time has come for harvesting.

One way of testing garlic is to loosen just enough leaves to reveal some cloves without uprooting or disturbing its surrounding soil. I like using my garden fork for this task – gently twist and wiggle the garlic up from its place, taking care not to damage its outer leaf wrapper leaves or break off any bulbs!

Once garlic has been pulled from its surroundings, it should be dried and stored in a cool and dark environment to develop its full flavor. After several weeks have passed, any dirt should easily come off of its skin and your garlic is ready for use!


Garlic Scapes are green, twisting stalks that emerge from a young garlic plant’s top. While many view them as waste, these delicious stalks should actually be eaten and can serve as an excellent substitute for scallions or chives in recipes, soups and stews alike. Scapes are part of garlic’s natural reproduction process and should be harvested about a month before bulbs need harvesting; harvest them when still thin as their toughness will only get worse with age; leaving some on may even produce flower heads or produce small bulbils which could sprout into new garlic plants!

Once scapes begin to curl, it is usually an indicator that it is time to harvest them – this allows more energy from the plant’s energy reserves to go towards developing its bulbs underground.

To harvest scapes, simply cut them as close to the ground as possible and wait until their first curl forms; this indicates when they’re still thin and tender enough for harvesting.

If you don’t plan on using your scapes immediately, freezing them for later might be the perfect solution. Simply wash and trim any tough or woody areas from them before cutting into smaller pieces before spreading out on a baking sheet to ensure no touching occurs between pieces. Next place in freezer until completely frozen before moving them to zip-top bags to store for up to one year in storage.

Chopping off the scapes will tell your garlic plant it’s time to stop watering, as their growth forms papery layers that protect and cover cloves beneath. If left for too long without being removed, these papery layers could start dissolving, making cloves vulnerable to insects and disease.


Garlic grows above-ground, so it can be challenging to know when its bulbs are ready for harvesting until you start seeing flowers and scapes on the plant. Even then, this is not always an accurate indicator; some varieties like Artichoke or Porcelain hardneck garlics may already be ready before their flowers emerge – an especially true situation if growing hardneck varieties.

One of the best indicators that your garlic is ready to harvest is its color of buds. As bulbs mature they create purple buds at the top of each stem that become fully colored and curl over time indicating readiness. If the buds remain lighter or greenish in hue this indicates more time must pass before harvest is possible.

One sure sign of when to harvest garlic is when its leaves start losing moisture, as the plant begins to mature it will become less and less hydrated, often producing dark-shaded and shriveled leaves. As soon as garlic plants start producing bulbs it should stop being watered as this helps speed up curing processes faster and reduce rot.

Last but not least is the condition of the bulbs themselves. Cloves should be plump and firm. The outer layer of bulb wrapper should be papery dry; otherwise it is too late to harvest them.

If you are uncertain if your garlic is ready to harvest, dig up one of the bulbs. When garlic is harvested at its optimal point, the cloves should easily separate from its skin and the plant should be relatively easy to dig up. Once harvested, it should be stored for at least two months to maximize flavor and size of cloves while protecting from mold or other potential threats that could spoil its storage conditions.


Gardeners know it’s time to harvest garlic when about half its leaves have turned brown and any flower stems that have appeared have withered away. Additionally, it’s advisable to check on the size and quality of bulbs by pulling a few from the ground and inspecting them – if their clove ridges are distinct and good-sized bulbs have emerged then harvesting should commence!

Once harvested, it’s essential that bulbs be allowed to cure before being used. Curing allows garlic bulbs to harden and dry out naturally while helping reduce risk of fungal infections. When they’re ready, bulbs will have a papery layer which should easily shred or peel away to reveal clean outer skins.

Garlic should be gently brushed using a toothbrush or soft bristled brush to remove dirt residue that remains on its surface. Washing it may lead to its protective wrappers disintegrating, leaving cloves exposed and shortening storage life.

Before storing garlic bulbs, it’s wise to trim their roots and leaves so that the bottom inch of each bulb is free from greenery – this allows for easier replanting while also improving appearance during storage. Once these steps have been taken, your bulbs can be stored in cool, dark, dry environments where they should remain fresh for months to come.

Store garlic in wooden boxes, plastic containers with slatted sides or on trays to protect it from excessive moisture levels and mold infestation. The best way to do this is in cool, dark spaces without extreme temperature differences; correctly stored garlic may last up to twelve months while continuing to cure and develop flavor while in storage – improper storage could result in its ruin and taste loss.

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