There are many ways to treat your garlics after harvest. You can simply shake off some of the dirt, leave it to cure on the ground for days – weeks, you can clean them with a hose, wash them in a bucket ect.
In a book I read how to gently shake off the dirt, cure the garlics for weeks, then trim the roots and clean the garlic with an old toothbrush and cutting the stem.
My dilemma; on one hand I’m too lazy to clean garlics with an old toothbrush, but on the other hand the chef in the kitchen dislike dirty vegetables. Also I won’t take the risk of transmitting stem-and bulb nematodes by washing the garlics in a bucket, and I’m too parsimonious to hose them clean in precious tapwater.
My choice is the leek method, tearing off the roots and one outer leave.
With this method timing of harvest is essential. Cloves grow in the leaf axils of the inner two or more leaves (most fertile leaves in softneck garlics) – you have to learn your garlic clone. Harvest when there is still at least one green leaf more than the fertile leaves.
Roots I tear off, as I imagine how cutting with a knife or scissor make a larger contact surface for infectants than tearing off by hand.
The leaf split when reaching the bulb. Each part of the leaf I tear down, the rutine comes quickly.
In no time I hold a clean garlic in my hand, thus can supply a happy chef in the kitchen.
An important detail: Handling several clones demand tagging. It’s terribly annoying having mixed up the garlic clones.
To ensure healthy garlic sets, I put the garlic bulbs in order of size before I start cleaning. I start cleaning the biggest, as I will set them again in the autumn. It reduces the risk of transferring diseases to my garlic sets. Cleaning several varieties I wash my hands in between, again in order not to spread infections.