Growing your own garlic is such a joy, and harvesting it can be even more fun. Each October we plant what turns out to be a year’s supply of garlic in about 7 or 8 square feet (using the Square Foot Gardening method). Then we nurture the bulbs through winter and into spring. In late spring, which is May or June here in Los Angeles, the foliage starts to turn brown and die back. We cut back on watering and wait for more die-back to occur. When there are still 5 or 6 green leaves on each bulb, we pull or lift them out and let them cure on a screen for 6 weeks in a cool, well ventilated space out of direct sunlight.
All this sounds very clinical, but what the above description is missing is the delightfully overpowering scent of garlic in whatever room you use to cure your harvest. It’s also missing the sense of smarty-pants, pat-yourself-on-the-back glee that comes with growing garlic at home. The only thing that compares, in my opinion, is growing your own potatoes… and we have a blog for that too (here and here ).
This year, our garlic harvest produced smaller bulbs than last year, mainly because we made a gross miscalculation and used an inadequate trellis for the nearby Sweet Peas, that hunched over the garlic, thereby decreasing air circulation and inviting in a healthy dose of rust.
Here are two ways to prepare your garlic for storage: 1) Trimming and 2) Braiding
First, take each bulb and cut off the root – give them a crew cut about 1/8-1/4 inch long.
Then cut off the stem about an inch above the narrow point of the bulb.
This is what’s left after all of that:
Finally, rub away some of the outer layers of white papery sheath to remove dirt and reveal a beautiful white bulb. Here’s the finished product below:
If you have a place in your kitchen to hang a garlic braid, I highly recommend trying this out. It’s not as hard as you might think. In fact, it’s a lot easier when you watch our video demonstration on YouTube.
Whether you dream of garlic ice cream or roasted garlic smeared on piping hot crostini, the satisfaction of growing and harvesting your own garlic is its own reward.