If you grow your own garlic in the northeast, harvest is around the second week of July.
However, there is a tasty garlic pre-harvest.
If you are growing a hardneck garlic variety, you’ll notice in early to mid-June that your garlic is sending up a rigid stalk from the center of the plant. The stalk is thicker than the leaves and is called a scape which, if left on the plant, will form a flower at the top and then go to seed. You can eat those tiny seeds which are also known as bulbils.
By cutting off the scape the plant directs its energy into increasing the bulb size rather than putting energy toward flower and seed development. Since the bulb is what we eat, I recommend cutting the scape. Plus, scapes have a delicious mellow garlic flavor and they are ready about a month before the garlic bulb is ready. This is what I'd call a win-win situation!
To cut your scape, wait until the center stalk completely forms and grows above the rest of the plant. As it grows up it will begin to curl or spiral upward. At that point, cut the stalk as far down as you can without cutting any leaves off. Sauté or roast the scapes with fresh green beans or a mix of your favorite vegetables. The scapes give dishes a very light and tasty garlic flavor - and they are good for you!
Not all of your scapes will come at once, so remember to revisit your garlic patch weekly until all of the scapes have been removed. If you are not growing garlic this year, you can find garlic scapes for a brief time in farm stands and some grocery stores. Enjoy!
I would love to hear from you and welcome comments and suggestions. Click the button below to sign up for more news and announcements from The Flowered Press.