The leaves on the garlic started to turn yellow this past week, telling me that the bulbs were ready to harvest. So, digging out the garlic was last Sunday's project. (And the reward was red Russian kale sauteed in olive oil with fresh, juicy garlic!)
I grow pretty much a year's supply of garlic in one 6' by 4' bed (somewhere around 100 heads--we eat a lot of garlic!), so preparing the garlic for long-term storage is important to me. Ideally garlic should be harvested after a dry spell so that the heads are already a bit dry. Dig the heads up carefully so that you don't bruise them, leave the stalks attached, and brush off most of the soil. (Don't wash the soil off--you don't want to get your garlic wet.) Now the garlic needs to cure in a cool, dark, dry place for about a week. Typically we don't have many cool, dry places in July here in Pittsburgh, but I cure my garlic in my garage. Not exactly cool (although this year Mother Nature is cooperating so far with a cool spell!), but it is dry.
After about a week the stalks can be cut off, and then I hang the heads in a cupboard in our basement. I save the biggest, fattest cloves to plant in October for next year's crop. Growing your own garlic is easy, and fresh, just-harvested garlic is a treat you really can't buy in a store!