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GARLIC GROWING GUIDE
The ten stages of growing garlic
Garlic needs to be cured before storing. The drying process begins in the ground as the plant ceases growing, and the leaves begin to wither. The next stage involves removing the bulb from the soil to finish off this curing process.
Why Cure Garlic?
Green garlic is garlic that has been harvested and has not dried. It is prone to rotting in storage if it has not been dried properly. The drying process will result in the bulb losing up to 30% of its weight due to moisture loss. It also results in the cloves' skin drying out which protects the inside from further dehydration.
The curing process helps garlic begin its natural dormancy and bring out the rich, intense garlic flavours. This usually occurs after three weeks of curing. Unless it is being eaten straight away, drying garlic is an important and necessary step before its storage.
How to Cure
How to Cure
Garlic once removed from the soil should be cured in a dry and low humidity environment, shaded, out of rain and with some air flow.
It is best to remove any large clumps of dirt on the roots or bulb if it was harvested during damp conditions. It is not necessary to remove any bulb wrappers (skin), scapes or roots at this stage.
Commercial growers use fans to circulate air but a well ventilated shed will also work. Ideally daytime temperatures should be >20°C at <55% humidity, with 1m/sec air speed. However in domestic drying conditions try to keep the garlic out of the sun, in a warm, dry place with good air flow.
Garlic is best hung as an entire plant for optimal drying. They are commonly bundled in groups of up to ten plants and strung up with string to dry. It is not good practice to remove any leaf material or roots, despite this being done by larger commercial growers to save drying space. This can open up the plant to infection such as molds into the bulb or basal plate and does not allow the bulb to draw the final nutrients from the leaves.
Some growers place garlic in a single layer on a screen, while some home growers use saw horses, ladders, clothing racks or old bed frames for small quantities. We hang ours from rods that holds the bulb upside down to reduce mold that sometimes grows on bundles of bulbs that touch each other. We feel the bulb is in a heathier stage for storing if hung bulb up.
Length of Time
The length of time it takes garlic to dry depends on a range of factors such as temperature, relative humidity, air circulation, if a scape is present, bulb size and number of clove layers. A basic guide is to allow a month, but it can vary from 4-10 weeks. The longer you leave them to cure, (6-10 weeks) the longer they will store and the bulb wrappers should be dry and wrinkly.
Always keep an eye on how they are drying and watch for infection of molds or pests.
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