Week 9 of the Garden Digest – Garlic Scapes

All About Garlic Scapes!

Let’s talk about different types of Garlic and Garlic Scapes!

We know you are here for the garlic scapes! But did you know there are two main types of garlic, hardneck and softneck, with some people considering Elephant garlic as a third? Garlic belongs to the Allium or Onion family, which boasts over 700 species.

Differentiating between hardneck and softneck garlic is simple. When it’s time to harvest, softneck garlic stalks will gracefully bend over, resembling onions. In contrast, hardneck garlic stands tall, and you’ll know it’s harvest time when the lower leaves begin to turn brown. An important note is that hardneck garlic will have garlic scapes while softneck will not!

If you have the space available, we highly recommend growing garlic in your vegetable garden. Keep in mind that garlic requires 8 to 9 months to mature (244-274 days), occupying a significant portion of your garden real estate. That’s why we dedicated one of our raised beds exclusively to garlic!

Luckily, garlic is one of the easiest plants to grow, requiring minimal care once planted. While you may need to protect it from pesky squirrels, that’s likely to be the most challenging aspect of growing garlic.

Raised Garden bed with garlic and garlic scapes

Garlic Scapes or Pig Tails?

In Zone 6B, around May to June, you’ll notice the emergence of curly stems from the garlic stalks. These distinct stems are thinner than the stalks and gradually curl as they grow larger.

These stems, known as scapes, appear because the garlic plant is entering its flowering stage. Harvesting these scapes is crucial because if allowed to flower, the plant will divert its energy away from growing the garlic bulb and focus on producing the flowers.

Knowing when to harvest garlic scapes is straightforward: once the scape completes a full circle, it’s ready to be harvested. The resemblance to a pig’s tail helps us identify their readiness! We usually cut the scape near its emergence from the stalk, leaving us with an abundance of culinary goodness.

Surprisingly, many people are unfamiliar with garlic scapes or unknowingly discard them. However, there are countless delicious recipes that utilize garlic scapes. Our personal favorites include sautéing them with perogies or creating a delectable garlic scape pesto. We have shared a recipe for pesto at the end of the email!

Garlic Scapes or pig tails

5 Key Takeaways

1. Garlic Varieties: Familiarize yourself with different garlic varieties such as hardneck and softneck, and consider Elephant garlic as an option.

2. Harvesting Garlic Bulbs: For softneck garlic, wait until the stalks fall over, indicating readiness for harvest. With hardneck garlic, harvest when the lower leaves begin to brown.

3. Space Consideration: Plan for sufficient garden space as garlic needs 8 to 9 months to grow and mature. Allocate dedicated areas to accommodate this longer growing period.

4. Scapes as Harvest Indicators: Recognize the curly scapes that emerge around May to June as a sign that the garlic plant is starting to flower. Harvest scapes once they form a full circle.

5. Scapes’ Culinary Versatility: Don’t discard garlic scapes! Discover the various ways to use them, such as sautéing with dishes like perogies or creating delicious garlic scape pesto.

We are here to help you achieve your gardening goals! Reach out with any questions that might come up throughout your journey. 

We are excited to announce that there are some new DIY plans on our Etsy store. Whether you need some more storage in the garden, are looking to spruce up your curb appeal or are looking for a new way to grow your tomatoes, we have something for you!

Check it out here – https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/WillowLaneGardenCo

Best regards,

Tessa & Kyle

Willow Lane Garden Co.

As promised, below is the recipe!

Fresh ingredients on a cutting board: garlic scapes, basil, parsley, walnuts, kale, and olives, ready to be transformed into a delicious homemade pesto sauce.

Garlic Scape Pesto

(Makes 1 ½ cups, or not quite two half-pint jars)

2 cups garlic scapes, roughly chopped

Other herbs or kale to cut the spiciness (no need to measure, just add to your liking)

¾ cup of olive oil (add slowly until desired consistency, could be ½ – ¾)

½ cup grated parmesan cheese (feel free to leave out if you don’t eat dairy)

½ cup walnuts

Pinch of salt

Pinch of pepper

Credit – https://www.creativevegetablegardener.com/garlic-scape-pesto/

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