Garlic is planted in the fall. Because the crop is hidden underground, it remains a bit of a mystery until harvest time. This is part of why each garlic harvest is accompanied by a great deal of anticipation and often followed by a great deal of celebration (garlic festivals are a popular late summer entertainment all over the world).
The garlic harvest here at Green Mountain Garlic is in full swing. Here’s how it works: Once the leaves start to brown, we cut back on watering. Garlic plants do not like to have soggy feet. When half to two-thirds of the leaves have browned and died off, we check a few bulbs to make sure the bulbs have reached a good size. When they look good, the harvest begins.
We loosen the soil around the bulbs and gently remove them from the ground. Garlic bruises easily so, we take good care and harvest by hand. Garlic is susceptible to sunburn, so we don’t leave it in direct sunlight. Once we bring it in from the field, we hang the garlic in our barn to drydown or cure. The barn is specifically designed to have good air circulation for this purpose.
Garlic is best when cured gradually at temperatures closely resembling those found a few inches under the ground where the garlic was grown. As the garlic cures, excess moisture from the roots and leaves evaporates or draws into the bulb.
Some of the biggest and best cloves from the harvest will be used as the start of next year’s crop and some will make it to dinner tables across Vermont and New England.