When to harvest garlic – key signs that will ‘tell you when it is time’ to pick your crop

Monty Don shares tips for planting garlic in the Autumn

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Garlic is one of the simplest plants to grow at home from just a few shop-bought cloves, and will leave you with an abundant crop that can be picked all summer. The flavoursome bulbs will be ready to harvest at different times throughout the season, depending on when they were planted, but it is generally easy to tell when they’re at their peak. According to The Garlic Farm, this clever crop will “tell you when it is time to harvest” – and these are the key signs to look for.

When to harvest garlic

Garlic is loved for its powerful flavour and pungent fragrance, but it can be a delicate process when it comes to harvesting a fresh flush of cloves.

Timing the harvest right is crucial to enjoy the complex, rich taste at its best, but when exactly is the perfect time to do it?

According to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), garlic should be ready to lift from the ground between June and August.

Autumn-planted garlic is ready in early summer – around June and July, while spring-planted cloves will be ready a little later.

If you planted the cloves in spring, you should expect the harvest to be ready between late July and the first weeks of September, when the first signs of autumn begin to appear.

It is important to keep an eye on your garlic crop throughout summer to prevent the crop from spoiling.

The Garlic Farm said: “Too early and you’ll miss the final growth spurt, too late and your bulbs will rot in the ground.”

What are the key signs that garlic is ready to harvest?

Knowing the timings for your garlic harvest is very important for a successful crop, but you should also keep an eye out for the first signs that your garlic cloves are ‘ripe’.

According to The Garlic Farm, the easiest way to tell if your crop is ready is in the position of the leaves and bulbs.

They said: “When the garlic falls over and the leaves are brown, it’s harvest time.”

Depending on the variety you choose to grow, there are a few other signs to look for.

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Hardneck garlic

Hardneck varieties develop a long flowering stem, called a scape, which eventually develops tiny “bulbils” at its top end.

This type of garlic should be ready to lift when the lower leaves start to change colour from green, to a yellow or brown shade.

In most cases, hardneck garlic will be ripe enough to pick from the end of May until late July.

Softneck garlic

Softneck garlic often produce smaller cloves per head but are quicker to mature than hardneck varieties.

That means that softneck garlic has an earlier harvest time, but can also be picked for longer.

According to The Garlic Farm, this type of garlic can be picked from mid-May to mid-August as long as the leaves have started to turn yellow and fold over.

The best way to remember when to pick this type of garlic is when the crop goes “weak at the knees”.

To make sure none of the crop goes to waste, be sure to use up the green leaves while the bulbs are still growing.

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