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Grow Your Own Garlic Scapes!

It’s time to grow your own garlic scales. If you’re like me, then you’ve probably grown some over the years and they’ve been sitting around gathering dust since you threw them away. Well now it’s time to make room for something new…or at least something edible.

If you have access to a garden center or even if you don’t, there are many online resources available to help you with growing garlic scales. There are also books out there that will teach you everything from planting seeds to harvesting and preparing the plants. However, none of these sources provide any sort of detailed instructions on how to grow garlic scales so I thought I’d share my experience here in case anyone else is looking for such information.

My First Attempt At Growing Garlic Scales

My first attempt at growing garlic was actually a gift from my girlfriend at the time. She gave me a container of garlic seeds and explained how to plant them. I planted the tiny seeds as recommended and waited for the plants to mature. It took quite awhile but finally I had a whole bed of garlic scapes that I was able to harvest and enjoy.

The trouble with growing garlic this way is that it takes up quite a bit of space in your garden and the yield isn’t very large. After I had harvested all the garlic that I needed, I pulled up the remaining plants to make room for other things since I didn’t need that much garlic.

Starting Garlic Scapes From Cloves

My second attempt was a little different and a whole lot easier. It started when I found some garlic at the farmer’s market that was selling plants rather than seeds. The sign said to plant the whole clove and that’s exactly what I did.

What resulted were a bunch of green stalks with a bulge near the top. I knew these were supposed to be scapes so I started researching how long it would be before they were ready to harvest.

How To Grow And Harvest Garlic Scapes at igrowplants.net

I discovered that garlic scapes can be harvested anytime after they appear and are usually ready for harvest about two months after the plant first appears so I waited until mine were tall enough to reach my belt loop before I started trimming them down to a reasonable length.

The scapes themselves start out as a nice green color but turn a vibrant purple when they’re ready to be eaten. If you wait too long, they turn brown and become inedible.

I had so many more scapes than I knew what to do with so I decided to try dehydrating them. I cut them into smaller pieces, sprinkled them with salt, and setup a dehydrator. The drying process took about three days but the resulting scapes were so strong that I couldn’t stand the smell of them while they were drying!

I ended up tossing them and will try a different method the next time I grow these tasty treats.

You Will Need

Step 1: Plant Some Cloves

You can find garlic cloves to plant at the hardware store or nursery. They come during the springtime and you can usually buy either them or live garlic plants. If you don’t have much gardening experience, start with live plants as it’s easier to get them going since the bulbs have already sprouted for you.

Garlic thrives in well drained soil that is high in nitrogen and other nutrients so if your soil has a lot of clay, you might want to add some sand to it. You can also start a new bed several weeks before your plants arrive so that it has time to settle in and become ready for the plants.

Once your garlic plants arrive, you’ll notice that the bulbs aren’t very big. This is because garlic is grown primarily for its cloves rather than its actual bulb. Each clove will produce a new plant so it’s better to grow more cloves rather than bigger bulbs.

Step 2: Cut Off the Scapes

Once your garlic plants have produced scapes, cut off the very top of the stalk where it connects to the bulb itself. You can either discard this or use it in cooking, it’s completely up to you.

The scape will now start to curl in a circle which will eventually touch the ground. Continue to cut the scape off at this point until you have several inches of stalk.

How To Grow And Harvest Garlic Scapes - igrowplants.net

Step 3: Start Trimming

At this point, the scape will be mostly white with just a bit of green near the base. Trim the bottom until you see some of the garlic clove itself starting to peek thru.

At this point, you can either eat it raw by itself or with some dip, cook it by itself, or add it to dishes where you would usually use garlic powder.

You can keep the scapes in a dark, cool place for up to a week but after that, they start to degrade in quality so eat them within a few days or freeze them if you think you’ll have too many to eat right away.

Before you know it, your hard work will have paid off with a nice harvest of delicious scapes to enjoy!

What is your favorite way to eat garlic scapes?

Sources & references used in this article:

Environmental control of garlic growth and florogenesis by R Kamenetsky, IL Shafir, H Zemah… – Journal of the …, 2004 – journals.ashs.org

Compositional shifts in the fungal diversity of garlic scapes during postharvest transportation and cold storage by J Chen, R Yan, Y Hu, N Zhang, H Hu – LWT, 2019 – Elsevier

Growth, bolting and yield of garlic (Allium sativum L.) in response to clove chilling treatment by C Wu, M Wang, Y Dong, Z Cheng, H Meng – Scientia Horticulturae, 2015 – Elsevier

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