Gardentalk – Time to harvest garlic, but watch out for mold

Freshly harvested garlic (Photo courtesy of Ed Buyarski)

After nine months of patiently waiting, this is the moment many Southeast Alaska gardeners have been anticipating. Garlic is probably ready for harvest, right now.

Garlic harvest
Master Gardener Ed Buyarski with a bunch of freshly harvested garlic in front of a garlic planter. (Photo courtesy of Ed Buyarski)

Master Gardener Ed Buyarski reminds gardeners of the key signals for harvest — the unfurling of bulbous scapes and the yellowing of the lowest leaves of the garlic plant.

Carefully check if the garlic bulbs in the soil are big enough for harvest, with intact skins that are free of mold.

Moldy garlic (see photo below) should be removed immediately so that other garlic is not infected.

Plants with moldy garlic stems or skins should be cleaned and processed separately to avoid transmitting mold spores.

Dispose or throw out the moldy parts in the trash, not in your compost bin, where they will contaminate other organic matter.

For mold-free garlic, you can cut the stems to about 6 inches, remove the roots and use the leaves in soups and salads.

Clean off the dirt and then store and dry the garlic for about two weeks in a warm, dry place — like a furnace room — where temperatures may be 70 to 80 degrees.

But you don’t have to harvest everything right now.

“That is the game I’m playing,” says Buyarski.

He says he’s leaving other a few other garlic plants in the ground so they can get bigger in any warm and dry weather that comes over the next few weeks.


Moldy garlic and good garlic
Garlic with white or gray mold (left) and healthy garlic (right). Gardeners should clean and process moldy garlic separately and dispose of the moldy skins and the stems in the trash, not in the compost. (Photo courtesy of Ed Buyarski)
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