Gently remove dirt from plant. DO NOT WASH.
Tie in bundles of 10 to 12.
Hang sheltered for 3 to 4 weeks until cured.
Cut off garlic roots.
Cut tops with sharp scissors.
Gently rub off top few layers of the bulb.
Cleaned garlic bulb ready to eat or store.
Store in cool, dark, well ventilated place and enjoy!
What Do I Do Now?
You have successfully grown your first crop of garlic and may now be wondering, "what do I do now"?
As the leaves start to turn brown, you may want to stop watering them for a week or more before you harvest so you are not digging up wet bulbs. According to TheGarlicStore.com, where I buy my organic garlic starts, you should harvest in early summer when the lower third to half of the leaves have browned. This will also depend on what variety you have planted and where you planted them. I dug up my Early Red Italian two weeks before the Kettle River Giant and four weeks before my Killarney Red.
If you think it's time to harvest, dig up one or more plants as a test. To harvest, carefully dig deep under the plant lifting the soil, making sure not to damage the bulb. Sort through the clumps of dirt and find the garlic bulbs. Leaving the plants intact, gently remove most of the loose dirt from the roots and bulbs. DO NOT WASH THE BULBS. Never try to pull the garlic out of the ground by its leaves. The tops will just break off and you'll have nothing from which to hang and cure the garlic.
You will now cure the bulbs before you store them or even bring them into the house or you will quickly discover that your entire house will smell of garlic. Curing them will eliminate the smell, prevent mold, and greatly increase their shelf life. Take about 10 to 12 plants and arrange them on the ground so they vary in length. Tie the tops together and hang the bundle in a well ventilated area. Make sure they are out of the sun and rain. Let them hang for 3 to 4 weeks or until they are dry.
Once cured, cut the roots and leaves off and rub a few top layers off the bulb until you uncover a healthy, clean skin while leaving as much bulb wrapper as possible. Keep the cleaned bulbs in a cool, dark, well ventilated place. A root cellar at about 55 degrees F and 55% humidity is said to be optimum. DO NOT STORE IN THE REFRIGERATOR as this will cause the garlic to sprout. Save your largest bulbs for planting next year and enjoy the rest!