In the beginning of summer it’s time to look for the flower stalks of garlic. That is if you grow hard neck varieties of garlic.
Garlic leaves are flat and linear and they grow longer as Spring progresses. These flat “grass blade” type leaves may arch gracefully to either side of the plant or grow almost straight up.
Near the start of summer a round stalk will sprout from the center of the garlic leaves. This round stalk is noted by its curly style of growth.
If the flower stalk is allowed to grow, the plant will be putting more of its energy and nutrients into the formation of small bulbils instead of into the garlic bulbs that we want to harvest in a few weeks time. The bulbils can be planted for another garlic crop in 2-3 years.
To grow the largest garlic bulbs
make sure to prune the garlic scapes as these flower stalks are called. Any scapes left on a garlic plant will eventually straighten out as the plant matures. When the scapes are standing tall and straight up, it’s near time to harvest the garlic bulbs.
Use a sharp knife or pruners to cut the stalk. They’re kind of tough so I wasn’t able to just snap off the stalk with my fingers. Pruning Shears were easier for me to hold the top of the stalk with one hand and cut the lower end of the stalk with the other. It also seemed easier on the plants to use the hand pruners.
The scapes can be used in the kitchen like garlic cloves. Cut or chop into small pieces and add to any vegetable dish for a unique way of adding the taste of garlic to the dish. We’ve cooked them this season with potatoes and a snow pea stir-fry.
If you cut the scapes early enough they’re fairly tender and can be enjoyed fresh, like adding them to a salad.