The lazy gardener’s way to save garlic

Seed garlic sorted – I just need to add the ‘hands off!’ label.

How to save time by sorting your seed garlic during the harvesting process. 

Words: Jane Bellerby

Garlic is due for harvesting and this usually happens here in mid-to-late January. I wait until the weather is hot and settled then pull the cloves, lay them to dry in the sun for a day or two, before cutting off the tops and storing them in baskets. They continue to dry and cure over the next month or two and the lean-to at the back of the house is redolent with the smell of fresh garlic. It goes into lots of dishes and is shared around.

These days I’m also sensible. I sort the seed garlic when I cut the tops off and store it separately with a label which says “Hands Off! Saved for Seed!” I put it up high as well as I don’t trust the household when those luscious big cloves are so tempting!

Freshly harvested and sun drying for a few hours, giant garlic bulbs.

The lovely purple flower heads of the giant garlic also get kept and become drying/dried arrangements until they get that old, tired and dusty look and are thrown out to start their growing cycle again. Dropping the dried seeds into a worked-up spot of ground and keeping it weed-free will result in heaps of tiny seedlings. The leaves can be used like chives in your cooking, and if you leave some uncut they become an ongoing food-producing, insect-repelling feature.

I used to bundle the garlic up, tie it with a strip of harakeke (flax) and hang it under the verandah eaves but these days I am finding it keeps better with the tops off and in open baskets. More air movement perhaps? Plaits of garlic look great but I am just not patient enough, and there is so much more to do!

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NZ Lifestyle Block This article first appeared in NZ Lifestyle Block Magazine.

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