June 28, 2009

My First Year Growing Garlic - I Learn about Scapes!

If you had asked me even two weeks ago "What is a scape?" I would have looked at you and said, "I have no idea..." even though, at that moment, I had them growing in my garden.

Although I've been gardening for about ten years I have not, up until last Fall, grown garlic. As much as my family loves it, I had never given it a thought. How I started to grow it is simple; the neighbors gave it to me. Over the last two summers our neighbor boy brought over garlic as they had more than their family could use. Finally, at the end of the gardening season last year they brought me a few bulbs and told me I should try my hand at planting it. "But... I have no idea how." I said. "Just shove it in the ground!" was the reply.

So I did.

Last fall I took a few bulbs, put them in the ground and hoped for the best. This Spring I was rewarded with about 5 stalks, happily growing and doing well.

And then came that 'weird thing' growing out of the top.

I knew it would be a blossom of some type and I was content to let to grow but apprehensive as well because I knew that many vegetables have to be picked once they flower or go to seed. Was garlic the same? Was I supposed to pick it? I had no idea.

Last week I was making a quick dinner of scallops and shrimp and needed fresh garlic, only to find we were out. Heading out to the garden I chose the largest stalk and picked it, harvesting the garlic a little early I knew, but glad to have an emergency store right in the garden!

Small and pure white it was beautiful and the aroma was delicious. It worked great in a pinch but I knew I wanted to let the rest of the garlic in the garden grow larger and for a longer time.

Today I was out and about in the backyard and the weird twisting bulbs finally got my brain wondering enough to look up information on the internet.

Was I supposed to cut the bulb off? Was it time to harvest my garlic? Should I let it flower?


Those twisting growths out the top of the garlic are called scapes. And when they grow they start to curl. Once they are curling, cut them off at the base of the stalk, right where it shoots out from the leaves.

You can blend it and mix with mayo or butter for a garlicy spread, use it chopped in dishes to give a garlic crunch or as I did, snipped them to 1 inch pieces and put them in the freezer for future use.Print Friendly and PDF