Garlic – Identification

Q: My sister-in-law recently gave me some iris from her yard. Coming up with the iris is a strange plant I don’t recognize. I’m thinking it may be just a weed, but am not sure at all.

A: Break out the tomato sauce! Your plant is garlic. I have no idea how it came to be among your irises. Garlic does not produce a true seed so it couldn’t have come from a nearby plant. My guess is that someone discarded some kitchen cuttings amongst the flowers.

Garlic begins to make its bulb when the days get longer in May and June. Harvest garlic as soon as most of the leaves have turned yellow, usually in early summer. Do not wait for all the leaves to turn yellow. Let the bulbs dry after digging, then collect them and spread them on screens or slats where they can cure for 2 to 3 weeks.

After they are cured, brush off as much soil as possible, and cut off the tops. Dry garlic keeps much better than onions. Save some of the very best bulbs for planting next fall.

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