One planted clove grows into a full-size bulb.

How to Know When Garlic Is Ripe?

by Melissa Lewis

If you love garlic (Allium sativum), you likely belong to the crowd that believes garlic makes most foods smell and taste better. Grown as an annual, you can start garlic from the cloves found in the grocery store, or you can take the safer route to ensure a high-quality harvest by purchasing garlic cloves specifically sold for planting. Planted in the fall or spring, depending on the climate, you'll know when your garlic is ripe for picking by observing the plant's top growth.

Wait until early- to mid-summer when most garlic plants begin to mature and are ready for harvest. Depending on the variety, planting time and climate, this can take as little as three months or as long as seven months.

Watch the tops dry, turn yellow and begin to fall over. When this begins to happen, it's time to harvest the garlic.

Dig under the garlic with a garden fork, and lift them from the soil without bruising the bulbs. Brush the soil off, and dry them in single layers on a mesh screen or as hanging bunches in a dry, airy location out of direct sunlight for one to three weeks until the outer layer is like paper and the neck is dry.

Items you will need

  • Garden fork
  • Mesh screen (optional)


  • Cut the tops off the garlic after they dry, and store in a mesh bag in a cool, airy location. Depending on the variety, most garlic bulbs keep for six to 10 months.

About the Author

Melissa Lewis is a former elementary classroom teacher and media specialist. She has also written for various online publications. Lewis holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

Photo Credits

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