How To Vampire-proof Your Home (aka The Garlic Harvest)

For as much as I cook things that include copious amounts of garlic, oddly, it never occurred to me that I could plant and harvest my own until one of my friends showed up at my house with a bag full of “planting cloves” last fall (at which point I was like THIS IS THE BEST IDEA EVER, and there was a lot of excessive punctuation coming out of my mouth.) Then I planted two of my raised beds full of garlic, and basically gave the finger to any and all vampires that might be targeting a small farm in the middle of nowhere for their next meal.


Planting and growing was super easy. I put individual cloves in the ground last fall


And basically haven’t touched them since. They grew without any interference from me…


A couple of weeks ago the stalks started to go brown, and then in the last week I actually started losing a few, so I figured it was time to pop these babies out of the ground.

For the record: I have no idea what the eff I’m doing. But I do have Google, and it seemed to concur.

So, the garlic came out of the ground.


And… then what?

I read you’re supposed to let it dry (out of the sun) for a couple of weeks, which I first attempted to do with just a couple of heads of garlic hanging in my mudroom. I quickly realized that not only would my entire house repel vampires, but also humans (and possibly the cat) too. I needed another option. So… tools!

Tools solve all problems.

I decided to build a quick-and-dirty drying rack for the thirty-or-so heads I grew this year. The layout was pretty simple…


A couple of 1×2 boards nailed to scrap 2×4 stretchers.

Maybe one day I’ll have a dedicated garlic-drying rack, but for now, this little portable version moves to wherever I’ve got room for it…


Currently sitting between a stool and windowsill in the garage, actually. (This picture also made me laugh because I just noticed the string wrapped around the end of one of the boards and puzzled over it for a minute… until I realized this scrap wood used to be a part of my picnic table pirate flag…)

Garlic does not repel pirates, by the way.

My plan is to leave the heads of garlic out to dry for a couple of weeks, and then (hopefully) it will be ready for storage–the biggest heads will be saved for planting next year.

The rest?


I may have already started mixing it in (with some chives and cilantro from the garden as well) to my fresh-from-the-Nug eggs.

While the garlic was the first real harvest in my garden this year… things are looking good.


The kale and eggplant is growing. The tomatoes are behemoths (and the cages my mom and I made back in April are working nicely.)


My bean vines are growing.


(Some of them might be peas, actually…)


My corn is making a valiant effort, despite the grass and the late planting…


And then there’s this, which my mother swore was cucumber when we planted it…


Although I’m not entirely sure we didn’t plant some pumpkin plants in the vertical bed. Which will make for interesting growing.

My herb bed is filling in nicely as well (maybe with weeds, but also with herbs.)


And since I’ve managed to make some great strides in getting my shit together inside the house (more on that later this week, I swear) more of my attention will be focused– again– on projects outside and a lot of canning.

20 Responses

  1. I’m here from *that place* and just wanted to say that I was reading your blog ages ago, but haven’t been here since the redesign. Thanks for putting it on my radar again.

    1. I also just came over from “that place”. We bought our farmhouses at around the same time, so I love comparing our progress (let me tell you, you are 1298230923 bazillion times more successful).

  2. Did you eat the scapes? They’re my absolute favorite part of growing garlic – mostly I just make garlic scape pesto and put it on every single thing I can think of. I was so sad that I missed most of scape season (it’s short!) because I was out of town.

    1. Made my first scape pesto this year. Canned some, froze some. Trying it this weekend for the first time!

  3. What kind of garlic did you grow? I just harvested 183 heads of German White(a hard neck variety) last week, and they are curing on a chicken wire/chain link gate rack in my garage…..with the doors open and a fan on them during daylight hours. I rinse roots and dead skins with jet hose right after digging up, lay on raised fence section to dry over night and then trim the roots and the stalk(to 3 inches) 24 hours later. PeeeeYOOO! The smell dies down to below nausea level(for me) after a few days.

    Scapes I cut off back in June(makes for bigger heads underground), put in bag to dry and I’ll feed the bulbils that form to the chooks over the winter.

    It’s the about the only thing I grow anymore cause it’s easy and I’m lazy, my brother grows hundreds and started me off with good seed 4-5 years ago. I save enough of the biggest heads to replant in October and sell the rest as seed at the Farmer Market.

    1. To be honest, I don’t remember. There was a Spanish variety and a purple variety, but I don’t think I tracked the names anywhere… I need to do a better job of that next year. (And also of cleaning them off before letting them dry!)

  4. If you ever decide to grow cantaloupe….my GF would shallowly cut our names in some of them and as they grew the cuts spread then sealed over personalizing them for each of us. It was a great way to get kids interested in the process of growing, especially as we looked forward to eating them too! He also grew a ton of vegetables on a city lot between his owner built stucco home (which took a wrecking ball to knock down years later!)and the neighbors house and irrigated it all with old fire hoses. Berries were in the back and were bountiful…seems now that he was an Urban Farming Pioneer :0) Saw my neighbors garlic on her porch drying so will tell her about your new drying rack.

  5. I only just came across your blog and I really like it! Garden posts especially make me excited. 🙂 Congrats on the harvest, I’ve got quite a few garlic shoots in the veggie bed right now and I REALLY hope they’ll turn into bulbs.

  6. I grew garlic a few years ago but I haven’t lately. I need to write it down for next year (or this fall). Do you keep a notebook or some kind of notes somewhere for gardening plans? I always think I am going to be that organized but it hasn’t happened yet.

  7. You totally make me want to pick up and move to the middle of nowhere. I’d have a rabbit sanctuary for all the buns that were impulse Easter purchases. (It’s my dream job)

  8. I am so envious of your amazing garden. With a growing season here of less than three months and constant aphid issues in my indoor herbs, I am left with pretty much nothing edible here. Maybe I will start the fight again next year.

  9. We’re maybe a week away from harvesting our garlic (which is in the front flower bed–jealous of your vegetable garden). Fresh juicy pungent garlic is the best. I remember reading that when the scapes point up, they’re ready to harvest. You’re also supposed to take off the scapes (yeah, didn’t get to that this year), so the other thing I heard is to leave one so that you know when they’re ripe. Here’s a recipe for scape pesto (though I haven’t tried it yet) BTW, thanks again for the shout out from “that place.”

    1. Harvesting time is indicated by the number of leaves dying off. Each leaf represents a ‘skin’ on the head/bulb. You want to let it grow long enough for the head to get as big as possible, but before all the leaves die off so there’s some ‘skins’ left on the head to facilitate storage. I usually harvest when the lowest 2 leaves die off…last year I waited until 3-4 leaves died off and some of the heads had cloves exposed because all the skins/leaves were dead.

  10. I am pretty sure your mom is right about the cucumbers. Pumpkin has much bigger more orange flowers. The garlic is awesome!!! I need to start some of my own this year, hubby garlics, everything!

  11. We always just braided the tops and hung them in the garage, much like our onions. Haven’t grown either in some time. Too much of a battle with the weeds. Might have to try Preen.

    1. You can only braid soft neck varieties I think.

      I use 6 inches of straw as mulch after planting in fall, set in flakes between rows the same width as the flakes, works great rarely have any weeds and any sprouts come out easily.

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