You might have seen these strange yet beautiful rounded green stems in early summer at the farmers market. Or perhaps seen them highlighted on the menu at your favorite eatery in the past.
Garlic scapes to me are a bonus gift sent right from the garlic herself.
So let’s dive in:
Garlic scapes are essentially the stem and bud of what would be the flowering top of your garlic. They specifically grow from hardneck garlic (typically found in the Northern Hemisphere).
Garlic scapes begin to show themselves about 6 months after planting or here in the Northern hemisphere, in June, when planted in the fall. They grow straight from the garlic bulb itself and naturally curls into a coil. The entire garlic scape is edible.
Why harvest your scapes instead of letting the garlic flower?
It’s a secondary “bonus” from one crop. In addition to harvesting your garlic bulbs, your garlic gives you this fun, mild green onion-like herb to use in your soups, sauces, veggie stir fries and even pesto. Garlic scapes have also been linked to numerous health benefits including lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, boosting the immune system, and preventing heart disease and various types of cancer. Very similar to the garlic bulb herself. So essentially we’re getting two forms of food and medicine from one plant. Amazing.
Harvesting our garlic scapes also helps send one last signal to the plant to put her energy downward to the bulb instead of upward toward creating her flowers. The downward energy will give your garlic a last growth spurt, which means larger more robust bulbs
The scapes are actually also giving you a visual reminder that the garlic is almost ready to harvest. About two weeks after harvesting your scapes, your garlic is ready to harvest. Look for browning leaves in the week or two following harvesting your scapes. Once you see many browning leaves it means it’s time!