The Cure All: A Guide to Curing Vegetables for Winter Storage

As gardening grows in popularity, people are figuring out all sorts of clever ways to get their homegrown vegetables to keep through the winter. Now that root cellars have become a rarity, many companies offer a range of storage tools and other items that can help. But creating the perfect storage environment for a particular crop is only half the battle—they have to be cured properly too, if they’re going to store for any length of time. Here are our curing tips for the crops that need it.


Onions from the High Mowing Trials field curing in the greenhouse

Onions for storage have a unique signal to show that they’re ready to harvest: their tops will start to dry out and flop over. Some varieties, like Cabernet F1, will continue growing after this happens. But for most varieties, the necks are crimped when the tops fall, preventing further photosynthesis and growth. These onions should be pulled up for curing.

Onions can be cured in a number of different ways, but regardless of the method you choose, the principle is the same: they need 1-2 weeks of dry, warm conditions for the necks to dry down and the skins to become papery. You can use this test to see if your onions have finished curing: cut the top off a large onion about 1” from the bulb. If you see any green, they need more time. If the neck is completely dry with no green, your onions are fully cured.

Here are several techniques you can use for curing onions in different environments:

  • If the weather is dry and there is no threat of frost, simply pull onions and lay them down in the field to “sun-cure” for 3-5 days
  • In a warm greenhouse or hoophouse, ideally with a daytime temperature around 80-90ºF and humidity around 80%, lay onions out in a single layer on wire racks for two weeks. Check them every few days and cull any bulbs that have spoiled.
  • Onions can also be cured in a single layer on a clean surface in a shed, barn, loft, attic, garage, sunroom or under a covered porch as long as there is good ventilation and no risk of frost for at least 2 weeks

Once your onions are cured, clip the tops 1” from the bulbs and store in baskets or crates (to ensure good air circulation) in an area that is consistently 35-40ºF and 65-75% humidity.


Freshly harvested potatoes ready for curing at High Ledge Farm

Potatoes need curing too, though many people don’t realize it. Fortunately curing them is really easy. Once the potato foliage has turned brown and died back, leave the tubers in the ground for another two weeks to allow their skins to “set”. This is when the skin thickens and forms a strong protective barrier that prevents the tubers from spoiling.

After the two weeks are up, harvest the potatoes and gently brush the soil off. Now it’s time to cure them for a week to 10 days in a dark, well-ventilated area with high humidity. Simply put them in open paper bags, crates or cardboard boxes in a cool, dark place such as a garage or basement so that their skins can thoroughly dry. When the curing period is up, cull any green, injured or diseased tubers before storing for the winter in a dark, humid environment around 40-45ºF.


A coldframe, like this one at High Mowing, is excellent for curing winter squash and pumpkins

Winter Squash should be harvested before a heavy frost, usually when most foliage has died back, the stem is becoming dry and brown, and you cannot easily indent the skin with a fingernail. They can generally handle one or two light frosts, but it’s best to cover them or bring them in when cold temperatures are predicted, since multiple nights below 50ºF can reduce their storage life. Always leave at least 1” of stem attached to each squash, since short, broken or missing stems (as well as injured fruits) mean reduced storage life.

Much like onions, winter squash can be stored in several ways, but they generally need about one week of warm, dry conditions with good ventilation for their skins to dry and harden. The sole exception is acorn squash, which should be immediately put in cold storage after harvest. Try any of the following environments for curing everything from butternuts to pumpkins:

  • If the weather is dry, leave fruits in the sun for 5-7 days, covering in the evening if frost is predicted (a coldframe on pallets is excellent for this purpose)
  • Fruits can be cured in a greenhouse at 80-90ºF with good ventilation for 3-5 days
  • Alternatively, a warm, sunny place such as a sunroom, south facing window or loft inside the house is also suitable

Store cured squashes in a cool place around 50-60ºF with good ventilation (entryways, mudrooms, basements and bulkheads can often provide the cooler temperatures preferred by winter squashes.)

Other crops can store well too, but don’t require any curing. These crops include dry beans, beets, carrots, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, radicchio, kohlrabi, leeks, melons and watermelons, radishes and turnips. And certain cold-hardy crops such as Brussels sprouts, cabbage and leeks will actually improve in flavor and sweetness after a light frost or two.

Posted in Ask The Expert, Beginner Gardeners' Guide, Commercial Growing, Greenhouses, Growing Tips, Variety Highlights | 2 Comments

The Great Garlic GIVEAWAY!

This month we’re delighted to be giving away every garlic lover’s dream:

  • a beautiful handmade garlic grater by local artist Marghie Seymour of GrateGarlic (so you can eat all the garlic you like and never have to mince again!)
  • a $25 gift certificate (so you can order the garlic varieties or seeds of your choice) and
  • a lovely large hand-woven “fibre rush” basket from Basketry Botanica to help your garlic harvest keep all winter

Because we want YOU to stay healthy and happy this winter by eating lots of garlic (and next winter by planting garlic this fall!)

It’s easy: just click “Log In” below if you have a Facebook account (if you don’t have Facebook, just click “Use Your Email” to create a Rafflecopter account). Then follow the instructions to enter for more chances to win!

Contest starts Friday, September 18th and ends Friday, October 2nd at 11pm EST. Good luck, have fun and happy garlic planting!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Posted in About High Mowing Organic Seeds, Health and Wellness, Variety Highlights | 503 Comments

Growing Great Garlic: Selection, Site Preparation & Planting

Mediterranean softnecks like Lorz Italian are best for hot climates.

Garlic is a wonderfully easy and rewarding crop to grow. It’s incredibly versatile in the kitchen, has great health properties and can propagate itself for years to come. There are, however, a few tricks that will help ensure success – like choosing suitable varieties, preparing the soil, and planting properly.

Selecting the Right Varieties

There are a lot of decisions to make when choosing garlic – hardneck or softneck, many cloves or few, mild flavor or spicy, to name a few – and comparing all the features of each variety can be daunting. Here are our recommendations based on growing conditions, cooking preferences and other important considerations.

  • I like fewer, larger cloves per head. Porcelain-types like Music and Zemo are best, with 4-5 cloves per head.
  • I want garlic that stores all winter. Music and the silverskins Silver White and Nootka Rose store the longest, easily up to 12 months.
  • I want garlic for baking or roasting. Chesnok Red is best for baking, retaining its shape and great flavor during cooking and offering a good size for roasting.

 Need more info? Check out our Garlic Comparison Chart!

Monique planting garlic in the Trials field

Preparing a Site & Planting

Garlic needs well-drained, fertile soil and a location that gets full sun (at least 8 hours per day) in order to thrive. Locations that flood and remain wet for long periods in the spring are not ideal, since garlic rots easily in standing water. Choose an area with good drainage or create raised beds, amend with well-aged compost and work up the top 8” of soil, raking the bed smooth afterward. Use a stick or trowel to make holes about 2″ deep for the garlic cloves (either 4” apart in single rows or 6” apart in double rows) and drop one clove, pointy end up, into each hole, separating cloves just before planting. Tamp the soil down firmly after planting, and top with at least 6” of straw or mulch hay if growing in a climate where the ground freezes (to prevent cloves from heaving out of the ground).

For more planting tips and to figure out how much seed garlic to order, see our article How to Plant (and Order) Garlic.

Posted in Beginner Gardeners' Guide, Growing Tips, Variety Highlights | 9 Comments

Time to Plant Fall Onions for Overwintering!

It’s a little-known fact that many seasoned gardeners don’t know: you can grow onions (and shallots) in the winter. These super-hardy plants can survive incredibly cold temperatures with a little protection, and provide quality bulbs even after they bolt in the spring. As with most fall-planted crops, success is mostly a matter of timing.

Walla Wallas can be harvested green or just after bolting

Planting Fall Onions

Prepare raised beds by incorporating compost, raking to create a smooth seedbed, then direct seeding onions about 1” apart in rows 6” apart in August or September. Once the onions reach scallion-size, harvest them individually with a knife until the remaining onions are spaced 3-4” apart.

For Northern growers (those in Zone 6 and colder), mulching the plants with straw or leaves once they become established will help the plants survive the winter. In late fall, plants should be covered with low tunnels made of PVC or bent conduit and a layer of 6mil plastic sheeting. A layer of floating row cover placed over the plants in fall will improve the microclimate even more, resulting in an air temperature inside the tunnels averaging about 20 degrees warmer than outside, according to this study from the University of New Hampshire.

Growers in warmer regions such as the South and Pacific Northwest will often need to provide some type of protection for overwintered onions, but usually low tunnels, row cover or mulch is sufficient.

Small bulbs can be harvested in late spring

The Spring Harvest

In spring you’ll find that the plants haven’t grown much over the winter, but with any luck most have survived. They will be about the size of large scallions in April, producing small bulbs by May, and generally are full grown (often very large in mild climates) by June. Many of the survivors will be sending up a scape to produce seeds, since onions are biennials—harvest the onions before or as soon as you see a scape appear, before it becomes large and starts to affect bulb quality. Just remember that these overwintered alliums won’t store very long – they should be used up quickly, just like a scallion or fresh market onion.

Bandit Leeks are a great selection for overwintering

Variety Selection

Northern growers have fewer varieties to choose from that will successfully survive and form spring onions. They will be best served by intermediate or day neutral onions such as Valencia or Talon F1, Bandit Leeks and bunching onions like Red Baron and Evergreen Hardy White. Growers in warmer regions can grow these as well, and are more likely to have success with large sweet onions traditionally grown in winter, like Ailsa Craig and Walla Walla.

Posted in Beginner Gardeners' Guide, Greenhouses, Variety Highlights, Winter Growing | 3 Comments

How to Preserve Fresh Herbs, 5 Ways

Fresh and dried herbs are usually expensive to buy, especially in winter when both supply and quality tend to be low. Fortunately herbs are easy to grow in quantity, and are equally easy to preserve for aromatic additions to your meals all year round.


Herb Drying Rack from

Drying is the simplest method of preserving a wide variety of fresh herbs. Nearly any herb can be harvested, tied into bunches, and hung upside down in a dim, dry place. To preserve the flavorful essence of these herbs, it’s important to choose a place that doesn’t get much sunlight or humidity, since light and moisture will rapidly degrade their quality. Hanging herbs to dry next to a window or near the stove would not be ideal, whereas an attic or pantry would work well.

Once the herbs are thoroughly dry (usually in a week or two), you can take them down and crumble them into spice jars. I like to dry the staples I use a lot of, especially basil, rosemary, sage, oregano and marjoram. To dry herbs I make a miniature clothesline with string, then use clothespins to attach the herb bundles so they can be easily taken down, but you can also try this cute herb drying rack from



Leafy herbs like basil are excellent for freezing.

Freezing is another wonderfully simple method. You can either make pesto (as described here), finely chop fresh herbs, or place them in a food processor. Next just scoop the chopped herbs or pesto into ice cube trays and cover with water or oil before putting in the freezer.

The frozen “herb cubes” can then be dumped into labeled freezer bags and used as needed in a variety of dishes. I especially like them for hard-to-find fresh herbs like Sorrel and Thai or Lemon basil. You can also finely chop herbs like chives and simply pop them into a freezer bag for later use.



Spicy greek oregano is ideal for infused salts

Infused salt is a fun alternative for preserving herbs, makes a great gift and adds complex flavor to meals. You can create an amazing array of combinations – from basics like oregano or sage to gourmet options like chili lime, lemon rosemary or orange thyme—the possibilities are endless, and the steps are easy:

1)      Start with a good coarse salt such as kosher, fleur de sel or Maldon. The ratio should be about 1 tsp flavoring to ¼ cup salt.

2)      Pulse salt quickly in a food processor or combine in a bowl with finely chopped dried herbs, chilis, edible flowers and/or dehydrated citrus peel, then spread mixture onto a baking sheet and allow to dry for a few days at room temperature (or use the oven set at 250ºF for about 2 hours).

3)      Decant salt mixture into glass jars and allow flavors to infuse for at least 24 hours before using. Use herb salt within 1 year.


Woody herbs like thyme work well in infused oils.

Infused oil is very easy to make and delicious on everything from salad to crusty bread. You can use a wide variety of herbs (ones with woody stems work especially well) such as thyme, rosemary, sage, dried chilis, and ground or toasted spices. Just choose bottles that make a good seal, wash and very thoroughly dry all your flavorings and containers, then fill containers about 1/3 full with flavorings, cover with good quality olive oil, and seal.

The trick here is to make that sure that everything that goes into the oil is completely dry, since bacteria can’t grow in oil but grow easily in water and very easily if fresh garlic is involved. (Keep any garlic infusions refrigerated and use them up quickly). Let your oil infuse for 1-2 weeks in a cool, dark place, then strain and re-bottle. Use within one month and discard if you see any signs of spoilage.


Purple basil turns infused vinegar a lovely pink color.

Infused vinegar can really dress up a salad, makes a very pretty gift, and is a great way to use up herbs fresh from the garden. Basil, tarragon, lemon peel, garlic, chilis and many more can all find a home in an infused vinegar concoction. Just remember that whatever you infuse with will color the vinegar, and that sterilized jars must be used when decanting infused vinegars. The basic method (which I learned from Margaret Roach – click here to learn more), goes like this:

1)      Warm (don’t boil) plain white vinegar in a pot.

2)      While vinegar is heating, rinse your jars and lids and sterilize. (Lids can be done in a hot water bath, while jars can be done on a baking sheet in the oven set to 250ºF.)

3)      Stuff 1 cup of fresh herbs (stems are fine) and/or spices into hot jars, then fill with the warm vinegar. Let sit for several days to a week, then strain and decant into sterilized jars.

Posted in Beginner Gardeners' Guide, Health and Wellness, Recipes, Variety Highlights | 1 Comment

Green Machines: 5 Super-Hardy Greens for Winter Meals

With just a little protection from the elements, you can keep harvesting fresh greens well into fall and winter. The trick is to choose frost-hardy crops that continue growing during the transition to colder weather and lower light levels, and to plant them early enough that they’re nearly mature by the time the day length drops below 10 hours. Here are our top 5 picks for fall & winter greens, along with timing tips to help you get the most out of your greenhouse or coldframe.



Claytonia, also known as Miner’s Lettuce, is gaining popularity as one of the most cold-tolerant salad greens and is hardy to about 0⁰F. It is easy to grow, surviving moderate frosts and multiple harvests with ease. The heart-shaped leaves have fresh, wild flavor and crunchy, succulent texture that is especially delicious with dried figs and grated parmesan. Each stem ends in beautiful, tiny white edible flowers. Succession plant every two weeks in late summer and fall – direct sow about 1/2″ apart, 1/4″ deep, in rows 12″ apart, thinning to 4-6″ apart.


Vit Mache

Mâche, also called corn salad, is a very hardy, low growing plant that produces tight rosettes of thick glossy leaves hardy to 5⁰F. Though it takes up to two weeks to germinate, it is quite easy to grow as it was originally selected from a weed found growing in grain fields in Europe. It has a wonderful mild, nutty flavor that is excellent with citrus, pears or apples. Direct sow once temperatures have dropped below 68⁰F, (usually in mid to late August in the North) seeds 1” apart in rows 6-12” apart.


Grazia Arugula

Arugula – Those familiar with the standard arugula available in the grocery stores may be surprised to learn that there are other types as well, actually part of a completely different species that is spicier and much more cold-tolerant. Unlike the strap-shaped Eruca sativas, the Diplotaxis arugulas (such as Grazia and Sylvetta Wild) are more firey, with a shorter stature and deeply lobed leaves. Direct sow wild arugulas every 2-3 weeks until 1 month before the first frost date in your area for a continuous supply through the cool months, seeds ½” apart, 1/8” deep in rows 18” apart.

If you’re not a fan of the spicy flavor of the Diplotaxis types, you may find you prefer beet greens, spinach or kale instead. Vates kale is a great broad, low-growing curly variety perfect for cold frames, offering the most impressive cold-tolerance of any kale variety and easily surviving the entire winter with minimal protection at temperatures as low as -15⁰F. Direct sow for baby kale in late summer, or start transplants for full size plants.


Giant Winter Spinach

Spinach is the classic winter green, growing thicker and sweeter with every freeze, such that by March the leaves will be enormous and almost sugary. The heavily savoyed types, such as Giant Winter and Winter Bloomsdale, are the hardiest, and can survive in very cold climates (around 0⁰F) with only a layer of straw to cover them. The key for a successful crop is to get the plants sized up before nights dip below freezing—mid August to mid September is generally the best time to plant (by mid-August in the far North, or at least 6 weeks before your first frost date). Direct sow seeds 2” apart, ¼” deep in rows 12-18” apart. Cover with burlap or cardboard to shade and cool the soil to 60⁰F, removing the cover once the seeds have germinated.


Bull’s Blood Beet Greens

Beet Greens are surprisingly hardy, surviving with the protection of a greenhouse or coldframe and row cover even in very cold climates, to about 10⁰F. Bull’s Blood is Eliot Coleman’s preferred leaf for overwintered salad mixes in unheated greenhouses, thanks to its hardiness and deep magenta color even in low light conditions. Direct seed every two weeks until 6 weeks before the first frost date, seeds 1/2” apart, ½” deep in rows 12-18” apart.

Posted in Ask The Expert, Beginner Gardeners' Guide, Greenhouses, Growing Tips, Variety Highlights, Winter Growing | 11 Comments

August GIVEAWAY! Preserve the Harvest Canning Kit

This month we’re giving one lucky winner a brand-new set of canning supplies! Will this be the year you put up the Vermont obsession, dilly beans, or foray into a world of pickled beets?

Whatever your fancy, we’re giving away the tools to make it!

The kit includes:

  • Two canning funnels
  • A canning rack
  • A lid sterilizing rack
  • A jar lifter
  • A magnetic lid lifter
  • Cheese cloth, and
  • Putting Food By for recipes to get you started!


It’s easy! Just click “Log In” below if you have a Facebook account, or if you don’t just click “Use Your Email” to create a Rafflecopter account. Then follow the instructions to enter for more chances to win!

Contest starts Thursday, August 13th and ends Wednesday, August 19th at 11pm EST. Good luck, have fun and happy canning!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Posted in Health and Wellness, Recipes | 285 Comments

5 Easy Ways to Preserve the Harvest

Preserving summer’s bounty for cool-season meals doesn’t have to mean standing over a hot stove or a huge investment in canning jars. Fortunately for those of us with little time to spare, there are lots of quick, easy ways to bring the fresh flavors of summer indoors for the winter. And the very best part? By taking the time to put up some veggies this summer, you’ll find cooking meals this winter is easier than ever.

Peppers (both sweet & hot) can be easily preserved by freezing. Just remove the stems and/or seeds, chop them into bite-sized or smaller pieces, spread them onto a baking sheet in a single layer, and place in the freezer until they are dry to the touch. Then use a spatula to scoop them into labeled freezer bags. (This way they will stay loose rather than turning into a large frozen mass.) These peppers taste unbelievably fresh when thrown into pasta sauce or soup in the last few minutes of cooking. TIP: Place small freezer bags of peppers into a large freezer bag. The peppers will stay frozen longer in case of a power outage.


Tomatoes are another great candidate for easy freezing. Cherry tomatoes can be blanched by dropping them into a pot of boiling water, than quickly removing and placing in ice water. Allow them to dry, then pack in labeled freezer bags, and use in cooked dishes as you would fresh tomatoes.

Alternatively, you can make a delicious “instant sauce” inspired by Margaret Roach’s “Tomato Junk”: Simply quarter large tomatoes (or halve smaller ones) and spread onto baking sheets with chopped onions, garlic, olive oil, fresh herbs (really whatever you have on hand) and salt. You can then “true roast” them at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes, or “slow roast” at 275 degrees for about 3 hours–just until the tomatoes are slightly crispy and caramelized around the edges. Allow to cool, then use a spatula to pack into labeled freezer bags. You can even make a pizza sauce batch with extra marjoram and oregano, and puree the whole roasted mess before freezing. TIP: Choose freezer bag sizes that contain about the amount of tomato sauce you’d use in a meal. This way you can simply dump the contents into a pan and heat for a delicious ready-made tomato sauce or minestrone base. For easier cleanup, line baking sheets with parchment paper when roasting tomatoes.


Eggplant can be roasted, pureed in baba ganoush, then frozen, but (in my opinion), is best preserved as ready-to-fry cutlets for eggplant parmigiana. This way there’s no cooking involved during the hot months, and between the eggplant cutlets and your tomato junk, you’ll have many meals already prepped and ready to heat in winter. To make cutlets, cut up eggplants into ¼-1/2” slices and lightly salt each piece. Dip each slice (making sure to coat both sides) first into a bowl of flour, then into a bowl of beaten egg, and finally dredge in a bowl of breadcrumbs. Lay the slices on a baking sheet in a single layer and freeze when the sheet is full. Once the cutlets are frozen, pack in labeled freezer bags. The cutlets can then be removed as needed and baked or fried for eggplant parmigiana.


Sweet Corn is wonderfully easy to freeze. Just shuck the corn (leaving the stem on), then use a knife to carefully cut the kernels off the cob and onto a baking sheet. Once the sheet is full, spread the kernels out evenly and freeze until dry to the touch, stirring a few times, then pack in labeled freezer bags. You can throw the frozen corn into a huge variety of dishes, but it’s especially good in soup, chili and bean dishes. TIP: Freeze sweet corn as soon as possible after harvesting, since the sugars in most sweet corn varieties quickly convert to starches, and the quality declines rapidly.


Pesto is easy, delicious and fantastically versatile in the kitchen. You’ll find it usually makes the most sense to use what’s on hand rather than following a hard-and-fast recipe. My favorite combinations are Cilantro-Garlic Scape, Arugula-Garlic Scape, and of course the classic Basil-Garlic. I’ll remove the stems from whichever herbs or greens I’m using, fill the Cuisinart with them, then add about 2/3 cup of scapes or 4-6 cloves of garlic. Next I put the top on the Cuisinart and turn it on, adding just enough oil while it’s running to get the mixture moving. If it seems like a lot of oil, you can substitute a little water. Then I’ll add about 1/3 cup parmesan cheese (optional), a tablespoon of lemon juice (to taste) and salt (to taste). Right at the end I’ll throw in a small handful of walnuts or pine nuts and continue to blend until nearly smooth.

Once the mixture is smooth, taste and adjust the ratio as needed—if I like it, then it’s time to scoop the pesto into ice cube trays and freeze until solid, then dump the frozen cubes into labeled freezer bags. These pesto cubes are terrific in the winter—a healthy shot of green you can throw into just about anything. TIP: You don’t even have to make actual pesto – just puree any herbs you have in quantity (especially leafy herbs like basils, parsley, cilantro, sorrel, chives, etc) then scoop into ice cube trays, add just enough water or oil to cover, and freeze until solid. Then pack into freezer bags, and voila! Fresh herb flavor at your fingertips, all year round.

Posted in Ask The Expert, Beginner Gardeners' Guide, Health and Wellness, Recipes | 9 Comments

How to Harvest & Cure Garlic (Plus Save Some for Seed!)

Most of us eat garlic on a regular basis, but few realize how easy it is to grow this crucial ingredient of world cuisine. While growing garlic requires patience and some planning, the results are well worth the effort—and the crop can perpetuate itself for many years to come (we’ll explain later). For those that had the foresight to plant this culinary essential last fall, the long wait is over! It’s time to dig and cure your garlic, if you haven’t already.

Garlic being harvested in a High Mowing production field

When to Harvest

The ideal time to harvest garlic is when the lower 1/3 to ½ of the leaves have begun to “dry down”, or turn brown and papery. This signals that the plant has completed its life cycle and that the cloves have grown to full size. Leaving garlic in the ground after this point makes it more susceptible to disease, which in turn can shorten its shelf life. Not to worry, though—if your plants are all brown, just harvest them as soon as possible and discard any heads that are moldy or soft. If you planted different varieties, you’ll notice that they mature at different times. Just check them regularly and harvest each variety once half or more of its leaves are dried down.

Harvest on a dry day by loosening the soil around the garlic plants with a garden fork, then gently pulling up the garlic by the neck. Go slowly, being careful not to pierce the heads with the fork, since punctured or bruised heads will not store well. You will need to loosen the soil more and be very gentle when harvesting softneck varieties, as the neck is much weaker and more likely to break.

Chesnok Red garlic curing in a High Mowing pole barn


Proper curing of garlic is essential to long storage because, much like onions, this is when their skins become dry and papery, forming a protective barrier against moisture and mold. Curing should take place in a cool, airy place protected from sun and rain – an open barn, garage, shed, shaded greenhouse or under a covered porch all work well. It’s important to keep the garlic out of direct sunlight because hot sun can actually cook it at this stage.

Next, you can either lay the garlic out on pallets or wire mesh, or hang it up to dry. If hanging your garlic, make bundles of 10-12 plants, make a loop in one end of a piece of twine, and slip the other end of the twine through it to form a noose that holds the garlic bundle securely even as the stems dry down and shrink. Don’t worry about the dirt left on the heads, as it will dry completely and be easy to brush off later.

Cured garlic in the pole barn

Softneck garlic can be braided for curing and storage. Just remove the scraggly lower leaves, then carefully French braid the tops so that the heads are held securely in the braid. The key is to braid before the stems are completely dry, while they’re still flexible, and to do it on a soft surface (like your lap) to avoid bruising the heads.

Once your garlic is hanging or laid out to dry, leave it in place for about two weeks. The skins should be fully dry and slightly wrinkled by the end, and the roots dry and wiry. For hardnecks, trim the roots close to the head and lop the stems off about 1” above the head, brushing off any remaining dirt as you go. For braided softnecks, just trim the roots.

Trimmed garlic ready for storage



Garlic must either be stored at very low temperatures right around freezing, or at room temperature (between 60-70 degrees) with low humidity. Do not keep garlic in the refrigerator as this will cause it to start actively growing again. Garlic should also be stored so that it has plenty of air circulating around it—hanging mesh bags, baskets or braids are all good methods for keeping garlic for long storage. Just remember that hardnecks won’t store as long as softnecks – about 3-6 months, versus 9-12 for softnecks – so eat these first.


Monique planting garlic in the High Mowing Trials Field

Re-Planting the Harvest for Next Year’s Crop

One of the best things about garlic is that it has built-in seed saving potential, since each clove planted turns into a head of garlic. Once your garlic is cured, you can select large, healthy heads for planting in the fall (usually in October, before the ground freezes) for next year’s crop. Keep in mind that larger heads tend to have fewer cloves, so you’ll need more of them to plant next year’s crop (which will in turn produce larger heads with fewer cloves). If you want to stretch your seed garlic further, choose heads that have more individual cloves. Break up the heads just before planting for best results, and plant individual cloves 2” deep with the pointy end up, spacing them about 6-8” apart in rows 6” apart. Garlic prefers loose, deep, fertile soil and can benefit from a thick straw mulch in cold climates.


Excited about growing garlic? Check out our 4 new varieties available for Fall 2015!

Posted in Ask The Expert, Beginner Gardeners' Guide, Growing Tips, Variety Highlights | 11 Comments

July GIVEAWAY – A Taste of Food Independence!

This month we’re celebrating food independence–and giving away a great set of things to help you get there. We want YOU to extend the harvest using:


For much of the country, now is a great time to start brassicas like kale, kohlrabi, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower for a high-quality fall harvest.

You can also succession plant salad greens, radishes, scallions, carrots, beets and more every few weeks for a continuous supply throughout the fall & winter. When the cooler days of fall roll around, you’ll be glad you did!

It’s easy! Just click “Log In” below if you have a Facebook account, or if you don’t just click “Use Your Email” to create a Rafflecopter account. Then follow the instructions to enter for more chances to win!

Contest starts Thursday, July 16th and ends Wednesday, July 22nd at 11pm EST. Good luck, have fun and happy season-extending!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Posted in About High Mowing Organic Seeds, Beginner Gardeners' Guide, Winter Growing | 160 Comments