We love garlic and use it a lot in our cooking but this is the first year we have grown our own. As you might remember from Halloween, Garlic Planting, Vampires, etc….we planted two varieties last November and they have been happily growing in the rear terrace bed since then. Knowing that we aren’t supposed to harvest it until July, I have taken it rather for granted as I walk right past it every day without too much thought.
But we just returned from a 3 day trip to New York and I was surprised to suddenly see a curly bud like structure coming out of the top of the stalk as if it were going to flower. Can you spot the two in this photo?
I rushed to look this up and feel embarrassed that I did not know that the hard neck variety of garlic sets out this stalk that is called the garlic ‘scape’ which is much like the flower. This is a sign that the plant is going thru its reproductive stage which we actually don’t want it to do since that would take energy away from the bulbs we are hoping to harvest. So, it is exactly at this time of year, approximately one month prior to harvesting the bulb, that one harvests the scape portion of the plant which can be used in cooking as a mild form of fresh garlic. Most of the stalks were about the diameter of a pencil so I got out a kitchen scissors and snipped them down at the base and collected a little more than 2 pounds of them. They keep fresh in the refrigerator for up to three months.
I wish you could smell the wonderfully fresh scent of garlic that I was surrounded by during this fun bit of harvesting today. What a nice break from weeding! The best part was no muss no fuss…snip and go garlic! Now I will await the browning of some of the lower leaves on the stalks before starting the bulb harvesting which in itself doesn’t take long but the the bulbs need attention in the drying process so I will continue reading up on that. One of my best sources for this is found here.
I have much to report on the barn, bees and other crops but I thought I’d sneak in a quick, lunch break post for now! Lots to do…back to the fields!