I’m a garlic girl who lives in Zone 6. We are on year 3 of growing garlic, and today we’ll talk about when to harvest garlic in Zone 6.
Garlic in Zone 6 is typically ready to harvest late June through July. While many people recommend to harvest around July 4th, we typically have found our garlic is ready to harvest a couple weeks after that in late July. You will know it is ready to harvest when the bottom leaves start to brown.
How to Tell When Garlic is Ready?
We live in Zone 6, and plant our garlic in October. We order our garlic from Gurney’s and plant it after we receive it, which can be very late in the month of October.
Garlic is ready to harvest when the bottom leaves start to turn brown. I did read somewhere that about half the leaves should be brown. I think this is the best advice we’ve found so far. When about half the leaves are brown, the garlic is typically ready to harvest.
We typically plant two types of garlic, and we will gently pull up one clove of each when we believe they are ready to harvest. You’re looking for garlic that is of a good size (similar to the size of the bulb you took your cloves from to plant). You want the cloves to fill out the skins. We have actually gently placed bulbs that appear to need some more time back into the ground for a couple weeks.
In our experience in Zone 6, in Central New York, our Garlic is typically ready to harvest in late July/early August.
What If You Pick Garlic Too Soon?
If you pick your garlic too soon, the cloves will not be fully grown. The cloves themselves won’t fill out the protective “wrappers” that are on the garlic. This smaller garlic as well as garlic that won’t store as well. You garlic might not even have grown all the various cloves it picked too early. Really, it will be a wasted effort if you pick them too soon. So before you go wild picking your harvest, always take that test sample!
What if you Pick Garlic Too Late?
If you pick your garlic too late, you’ll have garlic that is too big and breaking through the protective layers. The cloves may be rotting, sprouting and just generally not be in good shape. So nailing down the timing on this is important.
However, once 2-3 up to half of your leaves turning brown on the plant is a great indicator. So as long as you’re being mindful of those factors and checking your garlic periodically, you’ll be just fine!
When Do you Pick Garlic Scapes in Zone 6?
If you plant hardneck garlic, you garlic will grow scapes. This is a long thin talk that grows from the garlic bulb. We harvest these in mid-June, so that the plant spends all of its resources on growing me good garlic and not on growing the scapes. Some people prefer to wait until there are two loops in the garlic scapes to harvest, like the photo below from courtney_made on Instagram. However, we don’t wait that long, once they are of a decent length we clip so that the plant focuses on the bulb, not the scape. This year, we made a pesto out of the scapes and it was delicious!
Harvesting & Storing Garlic
To harvest the garlic, you gently remove the garlic from the ground. Shake off excess dirt, but do not wash! Hang bundles of garlic for a few weeks to cure in a cool, dry, dark place. We store in our basement. Once you the roots and leaves are dried, its ready to use! We continue to store the garlic in the same place we cured it.
How To Find Your Zone
The easiest way I’ve found to find your growing zone is by going to this website and putting in your zip code to get your zone. But there are plenty of other sites and maps that will do the job. Just give it a Google. We land right in zone 6 here in Central New York.