How to Harvest Garlic

Unlock the secrets of garlic harvesting with our comprehensive guide, from timing to techniques.


3/17/20243 min read

a pile of garlic sitting on top of a table
a pile of garlic sitting on top of a table

Harvesting garlic from your garden is like uncovering buried treasure after months of anticipation. From the moment you plant the cloves in the cool earth to the sight of green shoots emerging in the spring, each step in the process adds to the excitement. Now, as the foliage begins to yellow and the bulbs swell beneath the soil, it's time to harvest your garlic and revel in the fruits of your labor.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll walk you through the art of harvesting garlic, ensuring you maximize your yield and flavor.

When to Harvest Garlic

Timing is crucial when it comes to harvesting garlic. Typically, garlic is ready to be harvested in late spring or early summer, around 8 to 10 months after planting. Keep an eye on your garlic plants as they mature, and look for the following signs before diving into the harvest.

Signs That Garlic is Ready to be Harvested

Garlic bulbs will let you know that they are ready through subtle cues:

  • Yellowing and drying foliage: Watch as the vibrant green leaves at the base of the plant start to fade to yellow and wither away, signaling that the bulbs are reaching maturity.

  • Softening necks: Gently feel the necks of the garlic bulbs; if they yield to pressure and feel soft and pliable, it's a clear sign that the bulbs are ready to be unearthed.

  • Size of the bulbs: Mature garlic bulbs will have plump cloves, with each bulb reaching its full size potential. Take a peek beneath the soil to gauge the size of the bulbs; if they appear robust and well-formed, it's a good indication that they're ready for harvest.

How to Harvest Garlic

Harvesting garlic is a delicate process that requires care and attention to avoid damaging the bulbs. Follow these steps to ensure a successful harvest:

  1. Loosen the soil: Before digging up your garlic, use a garden fork or shovel to gently loosen the soil around the bulbs. This will make it easier to lift them from the ground without causing damage.

  2. Lift the bulbs: With the soil loosened, carefully lift each garlic bulb from the ground, grasping the foliage near the base and pulling upward with a steady hand. Avoid pulling too forcefully, as this can break the stems or separate the cloves from the bulb.

  3. Shake off excess soil: Once removed from the ground, gently shake off any excess soil clinging to the bulbs. Be careful not to remove too much soil, as this can expose the bulbs to damage or dehydration.

  4. Trim the foliage: After harvesting, trim the foliage of the garlic plants, leaving a few inches of stem attached to the bulb. This will help the bulbs cure more effectively and prevent them from rotting.

  5. Allow the bulbs to cure: To ensure optimal flavor and storage life, allow the harvested garlic bulbs to cure in a dry, well-ventilated area for 2 to 4 weeks. Hang them upside down or spread them out in a single layer on a wire rack or screen, keeping them out of direct sunlight.

  6. Store for future use: Once fully cured, trim the roots and outer layers of skin from the garlic bulbs, leaving them intact. Store the bulbs in a cool, dry place with good air circulation, such as a pantry or cellar, where they can be kept for several months.

  7. Enjoy your harvest: With your freshly harvested garlic bulbs in hand, it's time to unleash their flavor in your favorite recipes. From simple garlic bread to savory garlic-infused dishes, the possibilities are endless!

How to Store Garlic After Harvest

Proper storage is key to preserving the flavor and quality of your freshly harvested garlic. After curing, store the bulbs in a cool, dry place with good air circulation, such as a pantry or cellar. Avoid storing garlic in the refrigerator, as the cold temperatures can cause the cloves to sprout prematurely.

Hungry for more tips on how to store your garlic harvest? Dive deeper into the art of garlic preservation by reading our comprehensive guide on Garlic Storage 101.


When to harvest garlic?

Garlic is typically ready to be harvested in late spring or early summer, around 8 to 10 months after planting.

How to harvest garlic?

To harvest garlic, gently loosen the soil around the bulbs with a garden fork or shovel, lift the bulbs from the ground, shake off excess soil, trim the foliage, and allow the bulbs to cure in a dry, well-ventilated area.

When is garlic ready to harvest?

Garlic is ready to be harvested when the foliage begins to yellow and dry at the base of the plant, the necks of the bulbs feel soft and pliable, and the bulbs have reached their full size potential.

When to harvest garlic scapes?

Garlic scapes, the curly flower stems that emerge from hardneck garlic varieties, should be harvested when they are young and tender, usually around late spring or early summer. Cut the scapes just above the topmost leaf to encourage bulb development.

white bulb
white bulb