Harvesting the garlic

4 January 2011
I harvested our small garlic crop in the middle of a torrential downpour last week.  It had been raining for over a week and when I walked past the garden to let the chickens out, I realised just how much water was in the garden. I knew if I didn't take them out they would rot in the ground.  When I walked back to the verandah, they were in my hand.  They were planted from local garlic bought from Green Harvest back in July.  It's not really the right climate for garlic here, but we still grow it knowing the bulbs will be small.  The alternative is Chinese garlic and that's not an option for us.  The result might be small but they're juicy and delicious.

Garlic is one of our important solo crops.  If it grows well, it gives us enough garlic to see us through six months.  What I call a solo crop is one that we grow once or twice a year and the harvest from those crops gives us enough of that vegetable for six months to a year.  We also grow pumpkins and luffahs like that.  

The trick to these types of crops is to know you can store them safely and that they'll last in good order for a long time.  The luffahs are never a problem.  They dry on the vine or shortly after harvesting, you peel off the crackly skin and you have loofahs to use all year.  I soak our luffahs in a weak solution of bleach and water before drying them again and putting them in the cupboard with the towels.  Whenever a new one is needed, they're waiting.  Pumpkins must be harvested with a long piece of vine still attached to the top, then carefully taken to a drying area in the sun to dry out for a week or so.  You have to watch out for rain and bring the pumpkins to shelter if it does rain.  After they dry out, you can store them in a cool, dry, dark place that is rodent-free.  Care needs to be taken as you move the pumpkins because you don't want to damage the skin.  If you want the pumpkins to last six months, they must be unbruised and have the skin perfectly in tact.

The bulbs above will be broken apart and replanted. 

The tied up garlic will be stored, those in the middle used right away and those on the right, replanted.

These are now hanging on the outside bedroom door.  I doubt we'll have any vampires visiting us.    ; - )

And the garlic?  Well, they have to be washed to remove any dirt, and left to dry for a few days. Then  I sort them into those suitable for drying and storing, those to be used straight away - these are the small bulbs or any that are damaged, and I have a group of bulbs for replanting.  The garlic to be stored is tied in bunches with natural string/twine and hung them to dry out even more.  Eventually they'll be brought in the house and stored in a cool dark cupboard.  

So that's our garlic sorted for the next six months.  Hanno will plant the new garlic in the next week or two and they'll be ready in winter.


  1. fresh garlic is my FAVORITE!
    Have a wonderful day, Rhonda!

  2. I was interested to read about your garlic. I planted a bulb from an Australian garlic after I'd been searching ages for a local one - they're nearly all from China here. I was wondering just when to harvest it.

  3. So glad to read this! We have garlic in the ground at the moment and I haven't yet looked into long term storage of it... also the pumpkin - I knew it needed to be blemish free but not about the long vine still attached - how long are you talking?
    My butternuts are only about 10cm long at the moment so we have some growing time to go but I'm hoping for a few to keep us going over the winter by the time the season ends.

  4. Good morning ladies.

    Seagreen, poke a finger in and feel if the bulbs have bulked out, then, if the green tops are starting to die off, pull one out to look. If it's right, harvest the rest.

    Mrs B, leave about 6 inches of vine attached and be careful because when the vine dries out it can easily be knocked off. If the vine does come off, seal the hole with bees wax or use that pumpkin next.

  5. Rhonda thanks for sharing. I love garlic it grows very well here in Canada. I like the vampire humour.

  6. Garlic is my favorite crop because it is easy to plant and harvest. It is interesting to see how it is done in Australia. I'm in the northern part of the US and we plant in the fall. It is one of the first things up in the spring and we harvest in early summer. I put a lot of cloves in the dehydrator and store them dried. Then we just grind them in the blender for "fresh" garlic powder.
    Your garlic is very pretty!
    I would love to grow luffas. Can they be started inside and transplanted outside?

  7. I might give this a go in the spring.Thanks for all of the info.

  8. starlighthill, our garlic takes longer to grow here in the subtropics. I just checked where you live and I doubt luffahs would grow there. They need four months of hot weather. But you should always try and not rely on what others tell you. If you raise the seedlings inside, then provide a warm spot for a few months, you might get small loofahs, like we get small garlic. Who cares if it's small, if it's got enough fibrous matter on it, it will work well as a luffah. Good luck.

  9. Good morning Rhonda,

    Although I'm unable to eat garlic ,we plant it for a natural pest control spray.
    The information on the pumpkins is invaluable as a couple of ours went bad last year and we weren't really sure why.
    Loufahs are something that I would really like to grow. My grandparents always had a loofah hanging in the bathroom and I wasn't really sure what use they had for it. Do you just use it for skin brushing or are there other uses? Forgive my ignorance.

    Blessings Gail

  10. Who doesn't love fresh garlic?! I love your photos. They make me wish I lived in warmer weather. :)

    Happy 2011!

  11. Fresh garlic is so delicous and very different from anything you can buy isnt it. I guess getting two crops a year compensates for the small bulbs. We plant in Autumn and harvest late spring and hope it lasts the year. Thank you for the pumpkin storing tips. I hope for a bumper crop this year!

  12. Good morning everyone.

    Gail, loofahs are used just like a sponge but they help circulation with vigorous scrubbing too. Some people cut them into thick discs and pour soap into them to use as pot scrubbers.

  13. I've just pulled our few garlic bulbs to save them from rotting too. I plaited the tops together and hung them beside the pantry door.
    The garlic calendar around here is to plant around Mother's Day, harvest after the Melbourne Cup. Lol, makes it easy to remember.

  14. One of my goals this year is to grow garlic - thanks for the information!

  15. We love garlic and I enjoying growing our own. However I always have a hard time trying to make that they last until the next harvest. They usually try to sprout mid winter. I don't really know where I could store them to make that I don't have this problem.

  16. That's good to know about garlic. I think our climate here is similar to yours, and I just didn't think it would grow. I may have to try it, just knowing ahead of time that it might be small. Thank you for sharing!

  17. Hi Rhonda,
    When will you be putting your book out?
    Take Care

  18. Thanks for the advice Rhonda. I love your site.

  19. Rhonda, I hope you are alright in all this devastating rain and flooding that we are hearing about over in the UK. On the garlic, if the climate is a bit too damp over there, would it be worth growing it in containers instead, that can be left under a covered verandah to keep drier?

  20. We haven't planted garlic this year, but will be doing so for next season. Glad to hear that you are not caught up in the floods - was thinking of you!

  21. In answer to the second comment, Anonymous, I believe you are supposed to plant garlic on the winter solstice and harvest on the summer soltice.

  22. We had to pull ours up too, also all our shallots and potato onions, just hope I can save enough for the next planting, it was a bit to early but we would of lost them all if we hadn't.

  23. I love my garlic. I usually have a large plot of it that I put in in October and then pick it in June or July depending on when it is ready.

  24. wow, you are rich with garlic! good to know about the pumpkins...didn't know some vine should be left on them when cutting. thx!

  25. I tried garlic for the first time last summer. They were almost too tiny to bother with, but they did taste good. This time I tried the variety that you plant in the fall, overwinter them, and harvest the next fall. I'm mostly looking forward to the the garlic scapes in the spring. Hopefully I'll get a decent crop, enough to save for the next planting.

  26. Thanks for the gardening advice. I really love your blog and I need prompting to tell me what to do in the garden each month. I'm down in Auckland, NZ. So here is a bit different but at least we're working in the same seasons. Happy New Year :)

  27. Hi Rhonda, do you know about eating the garlic scapes too? There is a part of the neck above the bulb and below the leaves that you can chop up and use the same as you use garlic. It has so many health benefits, has a great texture and is delicious. We've been selling our garlic with the scapes still intact this season. People are raving about it. Google has millions of great recipes.

  28. We put garlic in here a couple of months ago. Crossing fingers that we have a harvest to enjoy! I hope to be able to make a braid.. which I know is a bit cheesy but that's my driving force. I've never even heard of growing luffahs before and will now commence googling :o)

  29. Hi Jennifer,
    I think wanting a braid is an excellent reason for growing garlic. Braiding garlic is one of my favorite kitchen crafts. Be sure to plant a softneck type because they are easy to braid. I grow Chet's Red Italian for that very reason.

  30. Hello, Rhonda.
    I hope that you are OK with all that flooding that I've seen lately on TV .
    Regarding garlic : to obtain a bigger bulb , we bent down the stem of the plant at the first sight of yellow in its leaves. Bent all the stems in one direction in the garden bed, at the ground level, letting the leaves to sit on the ground. In this way all the inside juices remain and feed the bulb not the leaves,for several weeks, until you crop it up.The leaves are drying on the ground and this means an easier braiding later.
    Thank you for the pumpkin tip, it is more than welcome :).
    I hope I wasn't to daring with my advice... I love your blog .It changed my "point-of-view" over my life...in better. :)


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