How Does My Garden Grow: Garlic

Garlic gets planted around Halloween and harvested around the 4th of July.

At least around these parts it does. Our crop was put into the ground before the first frost (cloves, pointy side up), and from there it nestled in for a long winter.

It was undetectable above ground, but by early spring, it was making itself known.

This is the third installment of the How Does My Garden Grow series. Check out #1. Blueberries & Raspberries, and #2. Potatoes.

I’ll spare you a photo of the bare, leaf covered ground from November – February and skip right to the good stuff.

March 10, 2017

The first green stalks emerge – a sight for sore eyes! Color outside is scarce this time of year, but anything edible or harvestable is still a long ways out.

April 10, 2017

More growth, more green… but not much else.

April 16, 2017

Starting to look perkier, stronger, and longer

May 11, 2017

And keeps going… and going…

June 5, 2017

Until FINALLY! The beloved scapes appear.

What is a garlic scape?

A scape is the first edible part of the garlic plant. They’re young, tender shoots with bulges that will turn into flowers if they’re not snipped. Taking the scapes off and enjoying their deliciousness ensures that the bulbs below thicken to their fullest potential.

What do scapes taste like?

I liken them to a more dense green onion, with a mild garlic flavor. They’re a light spring allium that can be eaten raw in a salad or blended into pesto, sautéed into cooked dishes, or whatever strikes your fancy. There tends to be dozens and dozens of scapes each year, so I use them as many different ways as possible!

July 3, 2017

When July rolls around, it’s time to start looking for the signs that the garlic is ready for harvest.

How do I know when garlic is ready to harvest?

A good indication is seeing those long, green stalks begin to yellow and turn brown. When they die off, its go-time!

You can also dig out a single bulb and see how it’s doing. If the cloves are brittle and shatter away from the bulb, you’ve let it go too far. But it’s mostly about watching those stalks above ground.

Ours were just right, thankfully, given our timeline.

July 4, 2017

Crop: Garlic
Annual, Perennial, or Biennial: It can be all 3 depending on the growing plan
No. of Varieties: 9 (see names below)
Planting Date: October 31, 2016
Age When Planted: 1~ year old cloves
Source(s): Enon Valley Garlic, Maine Potato Lady, and Seed Savers Exchange

Garlic Varieties:

  • Inchelium Red
  • Kettle River Giant
  • French Red
  • Music
  • Geneva
  • Bogatyr
  • German Red
  • Broadleaf Czech
  • Polish Red

I put together this video to show the harvesting process, which requires a gentle and deft digging technique to ensure the bulbs don’t get impaled or bruised.

Dirt is not a problem at this stage, as you don’t want to be handling the bulbs too much while they’re fresh and vulnerable.

Each variety got bundled together and hung up to dry. Air circulation is key!

Some of these bundles had a very fancy fate.

Spoiler alert:

Later this week I’ll show you how I braid my garlic, and the difference between softneck and hardneck varieties.

Stay tuned!



Betsy Brockett was diagnosed with Mesothelioma at the age of 28, and continues to thrive despite the challenges that cancer has created in her life. Holding a degree in Art & Visual Technology from George Mason University, Betsy expresses herself through writing, photography, painting, pottery, and more. She is most often found cultivating, creating, practicing/teaching yoga, or simply enjoying the beauty of life.

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