Light And Moisture Are Garlic’s Worst Enemies


If  you’ve been reading along, you know that I harvested my first batch of garlic two weeks ago but was a little unsure if it was the right time. This is the case with many root crops and it’s a trial and error learning process.

I decided I’d harvest a few at a time for the next several weeks. This would allow me to gauge and record sizing and ripeness based on timing. Over the 4th of July weekend, I collected two more bulbs, carefully from under the soil. They were bigger than the first batch!! So I think I may have been a little early in starting. Removing the scapes was significant. The energy to grow the scape and flower drain from the bulb. Removing them encourages more growth.

Speaking of scapes, I’ve used them in a few meals last week and it worked wonderfully. The flavor is similar to garlic. Just remember if you want pungency, use more scapes. I was talking with a friend on the porch and she mentioned garlic scape pesto. The stem of the scape can be a bit tough. Using a food processor to break them down for making pesto or other spreads works well.

For long-term storage and use, garlic needs to be cured. I didn’t cure correctly for the first 3 I pulled last week. I can tell because a few dark spots, probably mold, appeared on the garlic “wapper”.  I”ve removed those parts so I can still cook with those this week. With this second batch, I need to be more careful. The problem is I don’t have a cool place in the house. We only have AC in the bedroom so the conditions have been a challenge.

According to this is the best way to cure garlic:

Start by brushing off any soil remnants clinging to the bulbs. Do not wash them off or get the bulbs wet. Leave the stalks and roots on the bulbs while they cure. Tie bundles of stems together with twine, and hang bulb-side down in a cool, dark space, like a basement.

Allow the bulbs to cure for three to four weeks. Keep out of sunlight, as it can change the flavor of fresh garlic. Also note: Light and moisture are garlic’s worst enemies, as they both cause mold to grow. Once the tops and roots have dried, cut them off and clean the garlic by removing the outer papery skin. Be careful not to expose any of the cloves.

And to store:

Keep your garlic in a dark, cool place (32 to 40 degrees) where it will still get some air circulation. Braiding and hanging garlic is a good way to store it. You can also store garlic in a mesh bag. Check periodically to make sure the garlic is not going soft or sprouting.

In total I only have about 10 bulbs. The only interest in curing I have is to  keep two bulbs for next year’s planting.  I have a few more tries to get this process right and I’ll keep you posted on it!

If you missed the first article on garlic harvesting, find it here.

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Previously published in The Wave.