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picture of ripe garlic stems?

Posted by engk916 z6/TrentonNJ (My Page) on
Thu, Jul 2, 09 at 21:47

this is my first year growing garlic, and i have no idea how i can tell that garlic is ripe. all the web site agree on only one thing - that figuring out when to pull garlic comes with experience, and the only indicator is brown leaves. that's where all the similarities end. some sites say to pull garlic when the leaves are 1/3 brown, others say 1/2 to 2/3rds brown. does anyone have a picture of what ripe garlic looks like? i'm in zone 6 and growing german extra hardy stiffneck garlic if that helps. tia!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: picture of ripe garlic stems?

i pulled one today, and this is what it looks like (there's a quarter next to it if that helps). the skin has a lot of thin white papery layers, but i don't know if this is considered 'too young' to harvest.

Photobucket


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RE: picture of ripe garlic stems?

Each leaf extends underground to become a layer of wrapper around the cloves. As the leaves die off, so does its wrapper layer. If you allow all of the leaves to die (turn yellow/brown), then all of the wrappers layers will be gone and the cloves left exposed, subjecting them to potential rot and a shorter life. How many green leaves you want at harvest depends on how many layers of wrapper you want left after pulling. Different growers need different amounts of wrapper protection for the cloves, which is why you see so many different recommendations for when to harvest.

If you are growing the garlic for commercial sale, you will want a good four to five wrapper layers as some are lost during cleaning, handling and shipping. Therefore you would harvest when only 1/3 to 1/2 of the leaves are yellow/brown, i.e. leaving four to five green leaves. If you are growing for your own consumption and cleaning & handling carefully, you can harvest a bit later, perhaps when three to four green leaves remain. If you plan to consume your garlic very shortly after harvest or curing, you can live with fewer wrapper layers and pull the bulbs when just one or two green leaves remain. The difference in bulb size is not really meaningful and convenience may be a bigger factor.

Generally a home gardener would want about three wrapper layers upon harvest, so harvesting at about 60% yellow/brown leaves works well. Of course the leaves do not yellow evenly, which makes counting green leaves a bit nebulous. Personally, I harvest for my personal use when a plant has two nearly all green leaves and another two that are half to mostly green. If you find some bulbs are not fully wrapped, just use these first and pull the rest a little earlier. If you intend to sell the garlic or store it for over three or four months, better to harvest a bit sooner and assure a solid wrapping to protect the cloves.

TomNJ


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RE: picture of ripe garlic stems?

thank you for such a thorough and complete explanation! now i understand why there are so many differences in the recommendations of when to harvest. :)

so can i use water to rinse off the plants when i harvest? or is it best to just shake off what i can, and then peel off a wrapper layer to clean off the bulb? it's been so much rain (like the rest of the northeast) that the clay is really sticking to the plants.

i have maybe 24 bulbs to harvest, and i'd like to store them for about 6 months because i don't use garlic that often (maybe 3 bulbs/month). so based on your explanation, those plants need to come up pretty soon.


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RE: picture of ripe garlic stems?

You can brush off the soil from the roots (but don't wash it) Hang it in a dry place for a couple of weeks.


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RE: picture of ripe garlic stems?

Wonderful! Thank you very much.


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RE: picture of ripe garlic stems?

Hi engk916,

There are different schools of thought on washing garlic bulbs. Many farmers prefer not to wash the bulbs as they fear the possibility that the wet bulbs may be more susceptible to molds during curing, and because it is an extra step. Others prefer to wash because the bulbs look so nice and pearly white when clean.

If you grow garlic in a hot dry environment like the many farmers in the high dessert of the Pacific NW, and stop watering a couple of weeks before harvest, the soil will be dry and the bulbs will be easy to brush clean without water, and will cure faster. But if you harvest in a location where the soil is going to be moist anyhow at the time of harvest, like here in central NJ, then washing does not really pose any additional danger.

I have done it both ways and prefer washing since it is faster and easier than multiple brushings and yields such pretty bulbs. I wash them with a fine spray from the garden hose and immediately pat them dry with a towel, then hang them under my patio roof to cure. If you prefer to brush and peel, that is fine as well.

Your German Extra Hardys are porcelain garlics which should last for six months if you cure them well (4 weeks) and store them in a cool place like a dry cellar. Feel free to use what ever garlics you need during the curing process. I usually pull my porcelains when they have about 3-4 green leaves left, which should be in another week or so here.

TomNJ


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RE: picture of ripe garlic stems?

TomNJ,

I have been wanting to make a "how to" page on my site. I could not write that better than you just did...mind if I steal it? My harvest is starting today, I'm very overwhelmed with where to start.

Hey, hop on your jet and come help me huh (-:

Here is a link that might be useful: bloo's page


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RE: picture of ripe garlic stems?

Hi Travis,

Sure, feel free to use it.

I expect to start harvesting in another week, but my job is a LOT smaller than yours!

Very best,

TomNJ


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Picture of ripe garlic stems?

BTW Travis, I see you are located only about 100 miles from my brother, who lives near La Grande, OR. Next time I get out there I'll try to come visit. And if you fine yourself in NJ, feel free to stop in.

TomNJ


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RE: picture of ripe garlic stems?

I'm confused when you guys say "counting the number of green leaves"...

My garlic plants ALL have leaves that are turning brown to some degree. I cut their scapes about two weeks ago. None of them have any true green leaves left.

Or, do you mean, harvest when each individual leaf is 1/3 or 1/2 brown? Mine are just about ready, if that's the case... maybe another week or so for good measure.


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RE: picture of ripe garlic stems?

You are correct Odie that the leaves do not die off evenly, and some leaves are a mixture of yellow, brown and green. I look for two leaves that are mostly green and two leaves that are partly green; this works well for me but doesn't work for all varieties of garlic.

If in doubt, start digging some bulbs and check that they are well wrapped. The bulb size is not changing much at this stage, so digging a little early or a little late is not an issue, so long as the bulb wrappers are not broken, which could expose them to decay. If you plan to consume the garlic within say 3-4 months, then even broken or missing wrappers is usually not an issue. Having well wrapped bulbs is important only if you plan on selling them or storing for more than four months.

TomNJ


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RE: picture of ripe garlic stems?

Thanks Tom! Maybe I'll dig mine up then. I have maybe 10 plants... we'll definitely use them up in a few months!!


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RE: picture of ripe garlic stems?

Since you are going to use them up relatively quickly, you can afford to wait a bit. Perhaps dig three now, another three in a few days, and the rest a few days later, in the order of fewest green leaves pulled first. That way you can observe the wrapper differences and learn first hand for next year.

TomNJ


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