I plaited my garlic yesterday, a little longer after harvest than ideal but it still worked fine. I’m not the neatest plaiter (my daughter often ends up looking a bit disheveled after I have a go at her hair) but I’m generally happy with how my garlic turns out and it does store well which is the aim of the exercise after all.
This is how I do it:
I generally leave the garlic to dry for about a week after harvesting before I plait it. Most of this had about 3 weeks drying time before I got round to plaiting it. In all honesty it didn’t seem to make a great deal of difference. It is important that the garlic does have some drying time though; if you plait it while there is too much moisture in the stalks they could rot.
To commence plaiting select the heads that will make up the plait. I usually plait 9 heads together. In an ideal world you want to select bulbs that will fit together nicely but really any will be fine.
Take 3 bulbs and a short piece of string and tie them together as shown below. You don’t really have to tie them but I find the plait easier to control if the bulbs are tied at this point.
The next step is to place a bulb so that it nestles in the middle of the three bulbs with its stalk facing up. Bring the stalk on the far right (it is the stalk of the left hand bulb) over the top of the newly placed stalk so that it becomes a middle stalk.
Then place a bulb to the left of the newly placed one. Bring the stalk on the far left, from the bottom right bulb, over so that it now sits in the middle. Place a bulb on the right. Bring the stalk from what was the first middle bulb over the newly placed one.
Repeat this process for another three bulbs. Then separate the stalks into groups of three.
Plait the stalks together until you get near to the top of the shortest ones. Tie off with string leaving a loop in the string for them to be hung. I usually try do loops of differing lengths so that different plaits sit at different heights on the same hook.
When I want to use a head of garlic I simply cut it off the plait. Clear as mud? The real secret of plaiting garlic is giving it a go, if you play around for long enough it will probably turn out fine.