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Question about drying garlic and planting

Posted by mdgardengurl MD Zone 7 (My Page) on
Fri, Jul 14, 06 at 17:50

I am just beginning to harvest my garlic. I have elephant garlic and regular garlic - variety unknown. I have so far only harvested 2 good heads of elephant garlic (just a few days ago) I rinsed off the bulbs and laid them out to dry inside. The stalks feel dry all the way to the bulb, but it's kinda hard to tell if they may still be wet inside, as the stalks are very hard. I do want to be able to save some of this garlic for replanting this fall. Whatever the regular garlic is, I don't intend to braid it. How long does garlic and elephant garlic need to be dried before it's safe to remove the stalks?
Another question....Some of the garlic that I already harvested has lost it's papery skin. Is this ok if I want to plant it this fall?
Any help is greatly appreciated!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Question about drying garlic and planting

Im sure some people will have other advice but here on our garlic farm we cut our garlic off the stalk right after we harvest and then let them cure in racks . We have done this for seven years and have never seen any adverse affects. Your rounds or solids elephant will keep as long as the heads. The elephant that has lost its papery skin will keep fine.


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RE: Question about drying garlic and planting

MDGardenGurl, it's obvious from your various quesitons that you are going to get very serious about garlic. That being the case, let me urge you to get a copy of Ron Engeland's book, "Growing Great Garlic." Although some of it is outdated, it remains the bible of garlic raising, and will be very helpful to you.

As to your specific question: Curing garlic on racks certainly works. But it's more the sort of thing a commercial grower like GarlicLady would do. Just like the commercial farms that harvest not by the visual signs, but by the calender.

The more typical way of curing garlic is to bundle it (in groups of roughly ten heads) and hang the bundles in a warm, airly location, but _not_ in direct sunlight. In about two weeks, depending on conditions, the stalks will have fully dried, and the paper wraps will have dried and shrunk. At that point you can put the garlic up.

There are numerous ways of doing that. If you're not going to braid, trim the tops about an inch up the neck, and cut the roots off leaving maybe a half inch. Put the heads in a mesh bag, hanging in a cool place if possible. Of just put them in paper bags. Or even just pile them in baskets. Anything except plastic bags, which, because they don't breathe, will promote rot.

Cured garlic stores for quite some time. Hardneck varieties can last as long as 8-9 months, although six is more typical. Softnecks can store for as much as a year with no ill effects.

Because it has no protective outer wrap, garlic that has lost its papery skin will dry out faster than others. Certainly they should last at least until fall planting time. But, were it me, I would use those as culinary garlic, and use it up before the ones that have their wrappers.


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RE: Question about drying garlic and planting

Garliclad, you are such a wonderful help for me! I actually ordered the book you suggested last night...smiles. And, I already have the mesh bags for my onions, which I grow quite successfully. So I should now be all set for my garlic, too. Next, I will be on a quest for new and unusual garlic recipes to use my harvest! LOL Barring any problems I can't figure out, I now feel very confident that I can grow stellar crops of garlic. Thank you so much for your patience and your wonderful information!!

Here is a link that might be useful: Our Community Garden Website


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RE: Question about drying garlic and planting

Im not sure if garden lad grows elephant garlic but takes more than 2 weeks to cure elephant but as I stated in my previous post it is ok if you have already cut off the stalks. It takes about four weeks and a bit longer for really huge ones . I agree with Gardenlad the book he suggested is a good place to start . We got that book when we started .We have found some things that work better for us that what he stated in the book but remeber when reading that where he grows garlic has a different climate and he does not grow elephant so some things are different.


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RE: Question about drying garlic and planting

Thank you Garliclady...the more I research and 'talk' about growing garlic, the more I am learning. I'm definitely not a big-time grower, probably only wanting to grow about 60 plants total, but I do want to do it well...smiles. I'll wait 4 weeks before I break into my elephant garlic...I've never tasted it and will most likely roast one of them and use the other as seed garlic for this fall. I got many of the single 'balls' which I will save to plant in Oct., too, so I should have a good number of elephant garlic plants without having to buy any seed for it. I actually bought the first clove (well, bulb, I guess) at the organic supermarket. I am just glad it grew and am very excited that I got 2 real nice bulbs out of it, and lots of seed for fall. Every area of the country is different, and even in our community gardens, each garden has it's own micro-climate...then, too, every year is different, as well. I have found a place online to buy my seed garlic and will buy a sampler pack of a pound...Now my biggest problem is going to be deciding on the varieties I want to try! LOL I really appreciate you taking the time to help me!

Here is a link that might be useful: Our Community Garden Website


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RE: Question about drying garlic and planting

No, GarlicLady, I've never grown Elephant. But my post was referring to true garlic. And even there it's just a guideline, as it can easily take more than two weeks, depending on conditions.

Just as with harvesting, I let the garlic tell me when it's ready by what it looks like. If the tops are crispy dry, there is no green around the neck, and the outer wrappers have tightened against the cloves, then it's ready.

And the fact is, for a non-commercial crop, if it hangs a little longer than necessary, that's not a problem.


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RE: Question about drying garlic and planting

I know garden lad I leave my softneck hanging until I am ready to braid which can be as late as September. I do know some home gardeners that cut there off the stalk at harvest and place theres in a bread tray or on a window screen . I think both methods work fine it is what you have room for hanging or racks, All our rafters are full of softnecks and we have all our racks full of garlic this year we had no room for the shallots so we have them in bread trays- it seems it is time to build a new shed.


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RE: Question about drying garlic and planting

Another new one? ;>)

Didn't you just build that one two years ago?

Bread trays should be fine. Anything that lets air circulate. I've used the same open-weave baskets I use to dry beans, in a pinch, and the alliums didn't seem to suffer.

Of course, they weren't really piled in there, so they got plenty of air.


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RE: Question about drying garlic and planting

Gardenlad it has been several years . We are each year increasing how much we grow but right now our garlic curing shed also has lots of other stuff (tools, refrigerator etc) if we build a shed for everything else then we should have room for a lot more garlic. We need to build more racks by next year. We need our bread trays for taking braids and tomatoes to market.


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RE: Question about drying garlic and planting

After reading your posts, I got the idea of digging out some old "flats" trays that I got buying annuals. They are perfect for drying my garlic! the bottoms are criss-crossed - the holes being a little large for some of my cloves, but I've lined them with some spare window screening, and they work great, and I can stack them to save space. 2 are enough for my harvest this year, but I'll certainly save any I get next spring! Thanks for the ideas!


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RE: Question about drying garlic and planting

I would modify them slightly by boring holes in the sides, to assure air circulation. Particularly when stacking them.

A half-inch drill bit should be more than sufficient. You can go smaller, but you'll need that many more holes.

Support the sidewall, on the inside, with a piece of scrap wood as you drill.

If the garlic bulbs requires more room than one layer, be sure and shift them around at least once a day as they cure.


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RE: Question about drying garlic and planting

I have just received a couple hundred cloves of elephant garlic from a friend, and they are not on the stalks. What would be the best method to drying them out? I have never dried garlic of any kind and I am very intersted in learning...any help would be greatly appreciated


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RE: Question about drying garlic and planting

I have just received a couple hundred cloves of elephant garlic from a friend, and they are not on the stalks. What would be the best method to drying them out? I have never dried garlic of any kind and I am very intersted in learning...any help would be greatly appreciated


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RE: Question about drying garlic and planting

hello emmasmomma, when you you say cloves do you mean individual cloves that have been separated from the bulb or corms which are only the size of your fingernail and grow attached to the side of the bulb? if it's the former, they will naturally dry out very quickly so you'll only need to keep the in an open mesh bag in a cool dark place (not the fridge) with good air circulation. Just make sure that you check them regularly as some may have been damaged when they were separated from the basal plate which will make them more susceptible to rotting. If you can peel, slice and dehydrate them, it will help to store them longer than as cloves. I find corms too fiddly to bother eating so would just replant them in autumn which will give you rounds to replant the following year for full bulbs. However truth is I don't bother with elephant garlic any more, it's flavour is too bland for me, rocambole cloves are almost as big and much tastier:). megan


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RE: Question about drying garlic and planting

hello emmasmomma, when you you say cloves do you mean individual cloves that have been separated from the bulb or corms which are only the size of your fingernail and grow attached to the side of the bulb? if it's the former, they will naturally dry out very quickly so you'll only need to keep the in an open mesh bag in a cool dark place (not the fridge) with good air circulation. Just make sure that you check them regularly as some may have been damaged when they were separated from the basal plate which will make them more susceptible to rotting. If you can peel, slice and dehydrate them, it will help to store them longer than as cloves. I find corms too fiddly to bother eating so would just replant them in autumn which will give you rounds to replant the following year for full bulbs. However truth is I don't bother with elephant garlic any more, it's flavour is too bland for me, rocambole cloves are almost as big and much tastier:). megan


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