Saturday, June 18, 2011

Garlic Harvest

Raised bed of Inchelium Red garlic in mid-May.
I harvested my Inchelium Red garlic about 2 weeks ago. Some of the stalks were starting to lean over and were laying on the soil. The bottom-most 5 or 6 leaves were also brown and dry. I'm not a garlic expert, but I've used these signs in past years to determine when to harvest and I did the same thing this year.

Dry and brown lower leaves on garlic plants.  This photo was taken around June 1.
I actually used a fork (think flatware not pitchfork) to dig up each bulb. I'm not sure why I used a fork. I guess it's because I found an old fork in the garden shed and figured "Why not?!" It worked quite well, and I gave a nod to MacGyver. After harvest, I placed all the bulbs (approximately 50) in my shed for about 2 weeks to cure. I hung them from the rafters, cracked the windows, and ran a box fan to provide ventilation.

This is my third harvest of garlic, and first at .09 Acres. I figured I should do something special to celebrate the occasion. I went online to figure out how to braid garlic. I found a lot of sites with various diagrams, contradicting information, and mostly confusion. I learn by watching and doing so I fired up YouTube and found this decent video ( by Christi Wilhelmi of I set aside about 1/3 of my cleaned and cured harvest and went to work. The results weren't stellar, but I started to get the hang of things.

My first attempt at a garlic braid.  These are my biggest bulbs and I will likely save them for next year's planting.  That's one reason I used them for my trial braid.  The other reason is that they have fairly thick necks and were more difficult to work with.  I wanted to save the easy stuff for last!
The trick is to keep a very tight braid as you introduce new bulbs to the braid. The other important thing to remember is that you won't produce a textbook garlic braid on your first attempt. I had the occasional bulb slip loose, I dropped one on the floor and scared the heck out of my dog that was sleeping nearby, and a rogue spider or two crawled from the pile of cured bulbs. All minor problems. After tying the top of the braid and making a loop for hanging, I worked up the courage to start my second braid with the remainder of my Inchelium Red garlic.

My second braid of Inchelium Red garlic.  Again, not textbook in appearance, but not bad either.  
Some of the bulbs aren't tightly spaced with nearby bulbs. There is also a bit of dirt on a few bulbs that I still need to remove. But other than that, I think it was a pretty successful first attempt at braiding garlic. Now I've got the pleasure and pride of hanging this beast in my kitchen. Garlic anyone?


GPaul said...

We just recently harvested our garlic here, as well, including quite a lot of Inchelium Red. We'll be shipping it out soon. Very neat set up you've got going on. It's always good to see enthusiastic gardeners doing such great things here in the area.

-Paul, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange

.09 Acres said...

Paul, thanks for checking out my site. I actually bought my garlic bulbs (and many of my other seeds) from you. Inchelium Red grows great here in Newport News. I've also recommended Southern Exposure a few times on my blog because you guys have great variety and are very reliable. Sometimes it's hard to find seeds/plants that are suited to your particular climate, but you make it very easy to select things for this planting zone.