What happens if you harvest garlic too late? Best time to pick garlic explained

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Your garlic bulbs may have been growing for several months, and you now might be wondering when is the best time to harvest them. Here are some top tips for harvesting and drying garlic out after picking.

When is the best time to pick garlic?

Garlic bulbs planted in the autumn months will usually be ready to harvest in early summer.

However, garlic planted in the spring will usually be ready in mid-summer to early autumn.

There are some key signs to look out for before harvesting garlic bulbs.

What happens if you harvest garlic too late?

Gardening Know How explains the garlic leaves are key for deciding when to harvest garlic.

The site explains: “When the leaves are one-third brown, you’ll need to start testing the bulbs to see if they are the proper size.

“This is easy to do. Simply loosen the dirt above one or two garlic bulbs and get an idea of their size while still keeping them in the ground.

“If they look large enough, then you’re ready to make your garden garlic harvest.

“If they’re still too small, then your garlic will need to grow a bit more.”

Gardeners should not delay lifting garlic once the foliage has started to fade and go yellow.

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) explains that delaying lifting could mean the bulbs open up.

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Garlic bulbs left in the ground for too long are susceptible to splitting, and these bulbs are not suitable for eating.

Bulbs that have split could become a hotspot for mould and dehydration.

Leaving garlic until the leaves are completely brown also means the bulb will be inedible.

After harvesting, garlic should then be dried off in a single layer under the sun.

How do you dry garlic after harvesting?

The RHS recommend garlic is dried either under a cloche or in a greenhouse, but >30C heat should be avoided.

Drying should take about two to four weeks, but be vigilant to mould during this time.

When the foliage is dry, the garlic stalks can be removed, and the bulbs can dry further in a dry place at some five to 10C.

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