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Another (Brilliant!) Way to Know When to Harvest Garlic

We live for those joyous (and sometimes jarring) ‘aha’ moments, floating in when least expected, and that was this morning, on the phone with Ed Fraser.  

Ed grows garlic, acres if organic garlic, and as the rain poured down, rendering our classics means of discerning when to harvest more hazy, we asked,  

‘Ed, how do you know when to harvest garlic?’  

In his calm, casual voice, Ed said,

‘oh, when pockets of space form between the cloves and the center, as well as the cloves and the bulb wrappers!’ .


Have you ever learned something that made you realize you’d been overthinking it all these years? 

So Friends, here’s the good news: 

If you’re curious when garlic is ready to harvest, harvest a bulb and slice it in half, making a cross-section of every clove. The space you’re looking for is in two places. 

First, it’s around the center (around the hard stem of hardneck garlic, around the center clove wrappers of softneck), forming as the cloves swell to their final, most mature size. Even if it’s a millimeter, this is the space you’re looking for! 

Second, move your gaze to the outer edge of your garlic bulb. The outer skins surrounding the garlic are essentially ‘shrink-wrapping’ your bulb and as the cloves inside swell, spaces form between the edges of each clove and the outer bulb wrappers. It’s subtle! And once you train your eyes to look for it, the subtlety will be beautifully apparent, a clear guide to help you discern when to harvest your garlic. 

Especially in wet summers like the one we’re currently swimming in, this has been a much clearer indicator of maturity than our go-to ‘1/3rd dry leaves’ rule…. 

…and the only permanence is impermanence… 

….so indeed, rules are made to be broken.  



Just like the seeds we sow. 

Happy Reaping & Happy Sowing, Friends!

Sow Seeds & Sing Songs,

image 7

and the Many Beings of Fruition

5 thoughts on “Another (Brilliant!) Way to Know When to Harvest Garlic

  1. How do you know when it’s time to harvest shallots?

    1. when the plants flop over

  2. Thank you for passing this along! I’ll do this today before I harvest the Chesnock Red you sold me last August.

  3. Thanks, Petra! This was a help. I currently have 700 bulbs growing in beautiful PEI and God willing my annual harvest will grow exponentially. Your website and information packages are very informative!

  4. I’m a lonely patio gardener. My older neighbor gave me directions 10 yrs ago. He has passed & I’m still learning & planting. My space is 12″ x 15ft wide. I’ve gotten others craving all that I’ve been learning. I’m 84 and doing what is also keeping me active & mobile besides the healthy thingy. Luv’n my garlic family.

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