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How to Harvest Garlic Bulbs

By Kathryn Hatter ; Updated September 21, 2017
Harvest garlic bulbs when the bulbs mature.
fresh garlic image by ewa kubicka from Fotolia.com

Home gardeners who enjoy cooking with garlic often find room for a few garlic bulbs in the garden. Because garlic grows easily in fertile soil, prepare to harvest a tasty crop of garlic bulbs beginning in midsummer. Watch the garlic foliage carefully so you will know when harvest time draws near. Harvest garlic bulbs and handle them with utmost care to avoid bruising them.

Harvest garlic scapes from the garlic plants in early summer. Scapes are tall, round stalks that grow quickly out of the centers of garlic plants. Snap the scapes off cleanly just above the soil level with your hands when the scapes begin to curl. When you remove the scapes, you enable the garlic plants to redirect all energies into forming large garlic bulbs. Garlic bulbs will be ready to harvest approximately one month after you harvest the scapes.

Watch the soil around the garlic bulbs carefully after you harvest the scapes. Provide extra water only if the soil dries appreciably and rain does not fall. Stop watering the garlic bulbs approximately two weeks before you expect to harvest the garlic bulbs to allow them to dry out. Check your garlic variety so you know the approximate time for harvesting your garlic.

Dig the garlic bulbs from the soil with the trowel when the leaves turn brown. The browning occurs at the soil level first and moves up. Dig the garlic bulbs when approximately half are brown and the other half are still green. If you are not sure the bulbs are ready to harvest, dig one from the soil and check it for size and the outer wrapper. As long as the bulb is average size and the wrapper is papery, the garlic bulbs are ready to harvest.

Place the garlic bulbs (with foliage still attached) into the basket carefully. Handle the garlic with utmost care to avoid bruising it.

Brush off excess soil from the garlic bulbs with your hands. If the soil sticks to the bulbs, wash the bulbs under water.

Cut off the roots with the pruning shears so only 1/4 inch remains on the bottoms of the garlic bulbs.

Tie approximately 10 garlic bulbs together by the leaves and hang the bundles to dry in a well-ventilated area for two weeks. Keep the drying garlic bulbs out of the sun.

Unbundle the garlic bulbs after the two weeks elapses. Trim away the leaves and store the garlic bulbs at room temperature for several months.


Things You Will Need

  • Garlic plants
  • Trowel
  • Basket
  • Pruning shears
  • String


  • Harvest garlic on a sunny, dry day for best results.


  • Do not confuse the scapes with the leaves of the garlic. Scapes are round and curly. Remove only the scapes in step 1 and allow the leaves to continue growing on the garlic plants.

About the Author


Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.