In Oklahoma, we find it best to plant our garlic in the fall, mulch it heavily and let it overwinter in the ground. Tom is usually the one who plants the garlic, but being that I was newly retired at the time, guess who was elected for the chore. I wrote an entry about it.
Here's what the bed in that entry looks like now.
You know the garlic is ready to harvest when the leaves start turning brown and dying, like you see above. And, because I was the one to plant it, guess who gets to harvest it this year!
It has rained quite a bit lately, so I found that harvesting it was easy. I just pulled it up. No shovel or digging was required. I harvested only the garlic in the far end of this bed and here is how much I got.
It was pretty muddy and dirty, so I took the hose and cleaned it up.
I really like the sprayer nozzle that you see in this picture. The red thing can be pushed forward to shut the water off and the end of the nozzle turns to create a variety of spray patterns, such as shower, soaker, jet, stream, etc.
Some of the garlic had seed heads, like this.
If left alone, the "ball" on the end would break open and create a flower from which seed would form. These are called "scapes" and we cut them off so that the plant will concentrate its energy into forming the root portion and not on making seed.
Garlic scapes have a mild garlic taste and are considered a delicacy in some areas. Only the 3 or 4 inches below the flower bud are eaten. This part of the stalk is fairly tender and can be chopped to be used in stir-fries and other recipes calling for garlic. One person that I know makes a sort of garlic "pesto" out of these.
Here's a closer look at one of the flower buds.
I cut the scapes off and put them in a jar of water on the kitchen counter. They made a rather attractive arrangement.
Now, I just need to get energetic and cook something using them. Oh, yes, and I still have to harvest the rest of that bed. Sigh.