So you planted garlic in the garden, you let it grow all winter and all spring, and now you are wondering when you should be harvesting garlic. If you dig it up too soon, the bulbs will be teeny, and if you dig it too late the bulbs will be split and no good for eating, so knowing when to harvest garlic is an important thing.

When Do You Harvest Garlic?

The easiest way to know when to harvest garlic is simply to look at the leaves. When the leaves are one-third brown, you'll need to start testing the bulbs to see if they are the proper size. This is easy to do. Simply loosen the dirt above one or two garlic bulbs and get an idea of their size while still keeping them in the ground. If they look large enough, then you're ready to make your garden garlic harvest. If they're still too small, then your garlic will need to grow a bit more.

You don't want to wait too long, though. Once the leaves get to be one-half to two-thirds brown, you should harvest the garlic regardless of size. Putting off harvesting garlic until after the leaves are completely brown will only result in an inedible bulb.

Your garden garlic harvest will normally happen some time in July or August if you are in a climate that is ideal for garlic growth. In warmer climates, you can expect to be harvesting garlic as early as spring, though only certain garlic varieties will perform well in warm climates.

How to Harvest Garlic

Now that you know when to harvest garlic, you need to know how to harvest garlic. While it may seem like harvesting garlic is just a matter of digging the bulbs out of the ground, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Dig, don't pull. When you are harvesting garlic, you need to dig it out of the ground. If you try to pull it out, you will only break the leaves off.

Be gentle. Freshly dug garlic bulbs will bruise easily and it is easy to accidentally slice a bulb open while digging if you aren't careful. When harvesting garlic, lift each bulb individually from the ground. Place it in a container where it won't get jostled too much.

Get the garlic out of the sun as soon as possible. Garlic will blanch and burn in the sun. Put the freshly dug, unwashed bulbs in a dark, dry place as soon as possible.

Now you know when to harvest garlic and how to harvest garlic. Really, the only thing left to do is eat your garden garlic harvest.

Heather Rhoades
Founder of Gardening Know How

Heather Rhoades founded Gardening Know How in 2007. She holds degrees from Cleveland State University and Northern Kentucky University. She is an avid gardener with a passion for community, and is a recipient of the Master Gardeners of Ohio Lifetime Achievement Award.