Time the Garlic Harvest Carefully
Determining when Garlic is ready to harvest is one of the most important aspects of growing Garlic. If you harvest it too soon, the cloves will not reach their optimum size. On the other hand, if you wait too long, the cloves will begin to separate and the head won't store as well.
Garlic heads, whether fall or spring-planted, Soft- or Hard-neck, are usually ready for harvest sometime in late July or early August, depending on weather conditions. Soft-neck Garlic does not usually produce scapes and is good for storage for up to a year. Hard-neck Garlic produces delightfully artistic and delicious scapes and is best used within just a couple of months of harvest.
When the lower leaves begin to yellow and wither, use a garden fork to gently lift and remove several bulbs. If they're plump and fully formed, they're ready. If not, bring those heads in the house and eat them. Check back on the others in a week or two.
Harvesting, Curing and Storing Garlic
When harvesting Garlic, take extra care not to bruise the bulbs. Gently shake or brush off most of the soil and then transfer the plants~with stems still attached~to a cool, dry area out of direct sunlight.
Spread the plants out in a single layer; good air circulation during the curing process is very important. Garlic bulbs should cure for about a month. The process is complete once the stem is completely dry all the way down to the head. Cut the stems off about an inch above the top of the head and put the heads into a mesh bag or basket.
Any bulbs that haven't dried properly or show signs of decay should be used up first. Store Garlic in a dark place with relatively low humidity. Ideal storage temperature is a chilly 35 to 40 degrees F. Maintaining a consistently cool temperature will prevent sprouting.
Sweet or Pungent Globe Onions?
There are two main types of Globe Onions: Sweet (short-keepers) and Pungent (long-keepers). Sweet Onions are typically large and juicy with thick rings and thin skins that are easy to peel. They are often referred to as mild, Spanish or Bermuda Onions. Typically grown from seed or plants since the Onions themselves have no long-term shelf life and cannot be planted as sets, our favorite Sweet Onion is the Yellow Granex Sweet Onion. Sweet Onions have a lower sulfur content than Pungent Onions~this means they don't make your eyes water as much, but they also have a much shorter shelf life. Sweet Onions are delicious in salads or on burgers, are great in pickles, salsas and chutneys, and are also wonderful grilled, roasted or made into onion rings.
Pungent Onions, also known as Storage Onions, are dense and hard with thin rings and smooth, tight skins. A high sulfur content makes these the best choice for cooking, as heat both sweetens and intensifies their flavor.
Harvesting, Curing and Storing Onions
Harvest Sweet Onions any time from midsummer on, and use them within a month or two. Harvest Storage Onions a week or two after their stems have flopped over, which signals that the plant has stopped growing. If possible, harvest Onions during a stretch of dry weather. Pull them gently from the soil and handle with care to avoid bruising. Spread the Onions out in a warm, dry, well-ventilated place where they'll be out of direct sunlight. A barn or garage floor or a covered porch is good.
As the Onions are curing, over the course of a month or more, their leaves will dry out, the neck above the bulb will wither, and the papery skin will be pulled tightly around the bulb. Once the necks appear completely dry, cut the stem about an inch above the bulb. If you can still see moisture in the stem, let the Onions cure for another week. Store the cured onions in mesh bags or baskets with good ventilation. Keep them where it's dry, dark and cool; 35 to 40 degrees F is ideal.
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till next time this is Becky Litterer, Becky's Greenhouse, Dougherty Iowa