When to Harvest Garlic?
Harvest garlic when the bulbs have a minimum of 3-5 outer leaves.
Garlic is ready to harvest when the tops begin to dry and the plant bends to the ground. The timing of this will depend upon when the garlic was planted, variety, and climate. Allow the bulbs to attain maximum size without allowing the cloves to begin to separate.
How to Harvest Garlic
When you notice the lower leaves of the garlic plant beginning to yellow, you can begin to periodically dig up a bulb to test if your plants are ready to harvest. Cut the bulb open perpendicularly to assess the growth of the cloves. When they are fully natured, pull the bulbs from the soil. They need to be fully dried, or cured, before storing them, so at this stage you can either braid the stalks together and hang in a dry area out of the sun, or you can cut the stalks and lay the bulbs out as long as they are not in the sun and the humidity is relatively low. The curing process will take about 2-3 weeks and will result in a dry bulb with a papery skin. Neglecting to cure the bulbs prior to storing them will encourage mold and disease.
Factors that Affect Harvest Size
The size of your bulbs and the yield will be directly relative to a few factors. First, the size of the clove you planted will directly affect the size of the bulb at harvest. Larger cloves will result in larger bulbs. When saving your own bulbs from planting next year, choose only the healthiest largest cloves. Also, if you opted to plant in the early spring rather than the prior fall, you will still have garlic that is ready to be harvested, but the yield and bulbs will be smaller.