Sunday, June 23, 2013

Garlic is looking really good this year in spite of the late emergence date.  Most years I see the green shoots or tips by mid-March, but this year it was April before the shoots started showing. Now we have lots of big sturdy plants with large stems which will turn into good large size bulbs.  Yummy! I can hardly wait to roast up a batch.  Fresh harvested roasted garlic is just one of the better things to eat, period!  
In the meanwhile, the garlic scapes have emerged and will be ready to eat and harvest shortly. What is a garlic scape?  It is actually a seed stalk that a top setting garlic sends up to scatter seed with.  These small seeds are called bulbils.  To grow out these bulbils into full sized garlic bulbs takes two seasons.  
The first season these bulbils will form a solid hard round bulb, the following season this single bulb will grow into separate cloves.  I don't recommend this as a way to grow garlic.  It is slow and difficult to keep the first year growth from being overcome by weeds. But it is fun to see the curling scape progress.  In my imagination I always see the scape uncurling and flinging seed to continue the life cycle of the garlic.
The good news for the home grower is that the garlic scape needs to be cut off the growing garlic as it robs energy that the garlic uses to grow a bigger bulb that also keeps or stores longer. What makes this good news is that the garlic scape is tasty to eat!  You can chop it up and use it for many things.  I like it chopped small, like in 1/2inch pieces and sauteed in place of garlic and onions in just about everything.  Like scrambled eggs with other veggies, or vegetables for eating with rice or pasta, or as a side dish for poultry and meat.
Photos of garlic scapes coming up soon!