The lazy gardener’s way to save garlic
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!
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!