Know when To Harvest Garlic Scapes To Get The Best Crop
The Garlic plant not only gives the bulbs but also a greeny vegetable known as Garlic scapes. These have become such popular edibles that people plan carefully when to harvest garlic scapes as the plant grows. We are going to tell you about their harvesting process so that you can enjoy this early spring delicacy.
Describing the Garlic scapes
The scapes are a part of the Garlic plant of the hardneck variety. These are long shoots that curl after reaching a particular height. They emerge soon after the first leaves appear.
They appear like a bud upon full growth and give tiny, white-tipped flower clusters. These blooms later give out brown and bloated seeds. The fully mature scapes are called Bulbils that are planted for another Garlic harvest later.
The Garlic scapes are a delicious treat when eaten young. They become available before the garlic itself and are also a primary part of many Mediterranean recipes.
Essential pre-conditions for Garlic plant growth
Garlic scapes grow as a part of the plant’s natural growth cycle and you don’t have to make any special efforts. You only have to lay a good base before harvesting garlic scapes with these tips:
The soil medium must be a silty loamy one or fertile loamy. A well-drained soil keeps rotting away. You can add mulch to the soil to protect the crop from weeds and deep freeze.
Garlic plants feed heavily and so provide them with nitrogen-rich fertilizers. Fertilize them at- plantation, spring, and mid-May.
The shallow root structure of Garlic requires a lot of water to thrive well. Do generous watering.
Although the sun requirement of Garlic is around 6-8 hours every day, they can still do pretty well with some shade if the climate of the region is too hot.
They can tolerate freeze but warm climate stops the growth.
Choosing the right garlic
Garlic is mainly of two types:
Softneck: They have more cloves and don’t give scapes.
Hardneck: They peel easily, have lesser cloves, and are better in flavor.
Instead of flowers, Garlic plants give flower stalks. Garlic scapes grow out of the hardneck garlic variety named Rocambole garlic. Even this garlic type has different species like German Red, Spanish Roja, and Carpathian.
Now every variety had a different taste and you have to choose according to your preferences and cultivation suitability.
The hardneck garlic, thus, gives you two harvests. Once the garlic bulb is done growing, it is time for you to get the garlic scapes that are tender shoots. They taste delicious with a mild garlic flavor.
Time and method of planting Garlic
The best time to start garlic is during the fall. The plant doesn’t grow in the following winter and starts germinating when the spring arrives that warm up the soil. The in-between dormancy of the plant is responsible for the process of Vernalization where the garlic divides itself into cloves.
Calculate around 4-6 weeks before the predicted first frost and plant the seeds at that time. The garlic cloves must be planted at about 4-6 inches depth in the soil bed with a gaping of nearly 6 inches. Plant the garlic cloves with the pointy side up and thin outer covering intact.
The garlic scapes season is June when they make the first appearance. Now, this is not strictly valid as different zones can have different growth timings. A great part of the scapes is that they keep growing in different batches at some interval and thus you can keep harvesting them for longer use.
The garlic scapes look differentiable with a bulbil and similar to green onions. When they start forming spirals, they are ready to be harvested. However, if they get straight post curling, the time is over and what you will harvest will be harder and bitter.
Method for harvesting
You only need two things for harvesting- a container and a pair of scissors. The stems can just be pinched or bent a bit for snapping them out easily. This is a good option if you want the tender portion.
Leaving them for maturing enables you to plan future harvests with the bulbils. They also signal the harvest time for garlic by straightening up.
Alternatively, you can cut them starting from the plant base at an appropriate gap which we will tell you in the next section. Watch this video.
Cutting the garlic scapes
The scapes are cut before blooming so that the plant’s energy goes to support the growth of a bigger garlic bulb. However, cutting garlic scapes is a personal choice. If you decide to go with it, here is how to cut garlic scapes:
You must wait till the central stalk grows up to its fullest and reaches to a height that is more than the plant itself.
See for the signs of spiraling upwards or curling.
Upon the fulfillment of the above conditions, start cutting from as low as possible but don’t harm the leaves. You can use herb scissors for this process.
Keep checking for more scapes at regular intervals and keep cutting them.
You don’t have to totally cut the scapes. A cut makes the plant ooze a little but that heals up with the sun’s warmth. This process is good for the bulbs.
The right way to store the scapes
After you have harvested the garlic scapes, you can store them too if the crop was plenty enough. Before that, you need to thoroughly rinse them with water to remove all the dirt which can cause damage to them potentially.
Now you can put these scapes into water or seal them in a ziplock bag and refrigerate them. This way, you can store them for some days.
Now for a nice garlic scapes harvest, it is important to keep the garlic plant healthy. This can only happen if you be attentive to certain other points.
The Squirrels are the most potential damage causers to the plant. You can keep them away with mulching and manuring of the soil.
Although the pungent smell of garlic makes it repel pests naturally, it is not ultimate protection. Nematodes, bulb mites, leaf miners, wheat curl mites, and thrips are some common pests that threaten the plant. You can use a natural or commercial pesticide and crop rotation to fight this issue.
Now that you the right time as when to harvest garlic scapes, go ahead with making amazing recipes once the crop is ready and reaches your kitchen. You can use them to add flavor to any regular sauce, soup, or salad.