What if I harvest my garlic too early?

Answered by Robert Dupre

If you harvest your garlic too early, there are a few consequences to consider. The first and most noticeable is that the garlic bulbs will be small and underdeveloped. This means that you won’t get as much garlic out of each bulb as you would if you had waited for them to fully mature. The cloves may also be smaller and harder to peel.

When garlic is harvested early, it hasn’t had enough time to fully develop its flavors and oils. As a result, the taste of the garlic may be milder and less intense compared to garlic that has been left to mature. This can be disappointing if you were looking for that strong garlic flavor in your dishes.

Another consequence of harvesting garlic too early is that the bulbs may not store as well. Garlic needs time to cure after it is harvested, which allows the outer layers to dry and harden. This curing process helps to extend the shelf life of the garlic. If you harvest the garlic too early, the bulbs may not cure properly and could spoil more quickly.

Additionally, harvesting garlic prematurely can impact the overall yield of your crop. Garlic bulbs continue to grow and develop until they are fully mature. By pulling them too early, you are essentially cutting short their growth potential. This means that you may end up with fewer and smaller bulbs than you would have if you had waited for them to reach their full size.

It’s worth noting that garlic harvesting time can vary depending on the variety you are growing and the climate in which you are growing it. Generally, garlic is ready to be harvested when the leaves turn yellow or brown and start to dry out. The outer skin of the bulbs should feel papery and dry. It’s important to regularly check on your garlic plants and monitor their progress to ensure you harvest them at the right time.

In my personal experience, I once harvested garlic too early because I was excited to taste the fresh cloves. However, I ended up with small bulbs that didn’t have the robust flavor I was expecting. I learned from that mistake and now make sure to wait until the garlic plants show clear signs of maturity before harvesting them.

To summarize, if you pull your garlic too early, you will likely end up with small, underdeveloped bulbs that may not have the desired flavor and won’t store as well. Additionally, you may experience a lower yield compared to waiting for the garlic to fully mature. It’s important to be patient and wait for the garlic to show clear signs of readiness before harvesting.