Harvesting Your Garlic Scapes

As mentioned earlier, last fall we planted all of our varieties of garlic that we carry. These varieties include German Extra Hardy, Chet’s Italian Red, Chesnok Red, Persian Star and Music. The process was rather easy, though a little time consuming. We tilled up the field, mounded up the rows, planted the garlic bulbs and then covered with a thick layer of straw. The straw not only helps control those pesky weeds but is vital in protecting the garlic through the cold winter months.

Just like anything you plant in the garden, part of the wonder and excitement of gardening is seeing your little seeds or bulbs sprout up, poking up through the soil. In the beginning, my husband and I would take our 2 Aussie’s, Pardner and Angel Bear, out with us to the field, and peak under the straw to see if our garlic had poked through the dirt yet. And of course, when we found one that had, we expressed our joy and kept checking down the rows to see how everything looked.

In early June, on one of our frequent trips to the farm, we noticed the beginning of garlic scapes. What are garlic scapes you ask? Garlic scapes are the flower stalks that grow on the hardneck varieties. It is important to cut the garlic scapes off the garlic, otherwise all the energy of the plant will be diverted and you will not get a nice plump bulb. Because we want a nice plump bulb for our customers, we had a team spend a few hours cutting the scapes off all of our hardneck varieties.

When all was said and done, we probably had 60-70 lbs of garlic scapes ready for use. Garlic scapes are extremely tasty. If you cut when they are young enough, you can cut and toss into salads. You may sautee them and use in pastas, stir-fry, you name it. We gave most of it a way, as there was no way I could handle that many pounds of garlic scapes by myself. What was left we decided to pickle. I found an easy recipe and currently have a plethora of jars sitting in the fridge, waiting to be eaten in a couple of weeks! If you would like to try, here is the recipe that I used:

Pickled Garlic Scapes


About 15 garlic scapes
1 dried chile (optional)
1 cup cider vinegar
4 teaspoons fine sea salt
4 teaspoons sugar
1 pint jar

  • Trim the garlic scapes, curl them up and place them in a pint jar.
  • Work the chile, if you’re using it, into the jar with the garlic scapes.
  • In a small saucepan, heat the vinegar, salt and sugar with 1 cup of water until simmering and salt and sugar are dissolved.
  • Pour the warm vinegar mixture over the garlic scapes to cover them. Seal the jar. Let it sit until cool, then store in refrigerator for at least 6 weeks and up to six months.

Do you have any garlic scape recipes you would like to share? We would love to hear from you! Please email us at .


Answering Your Garlic Questions

We get lots of questions about garlic – and I’ve tried to answer them the best I can here in this article.
Q. Can I plant the garlic from the grocery store?
A. No. The garlic you buy at the store is a “field run,” which means it’s grown only for cooking, not for seed stock. If you do plant it, you’re likely to get a poor, puny crop.

Q. How is seed garlic different from grocery store garlic?
A. Our seed garlic is heirloom garlic, carefully husbanded over generations. It has been selected for vigor, output, uniformity, and most importantly, its ability to grow with the least amount of problems. It’s been carefully inspected and certified to be free of disease and nematodes. And unlike much of the stock in grocery stores, it hasn’t been treated with fumigation chemicals or sprout inhibitors.

Q. How do I plant it?
A. You plant the cloves, not the bulbs. Do not peel the cloves – leave on the thin papery outer covering. If you have more cloves than you need, plant only the biggest ones, because bigger cloves mean bigger heads of garlic. You’ll notice the two ends of the clove are different: one end is pointy, and one end is flat. Place the flat end down, about 1 or 2 inches deep for a winter planting. If you live in an area with really harsh winters, you may want to plant them up to 4 inches deep. Space each clove about 5 inches apart. If you’re doing multiple rows, leave about a foot between each row. Water regularly for the first few weeks to help the roots get established.

Q. When should I plant garlic for a spring crop?
A. You can plant your garlic pretty much any time now through November, depending on where you live. Some people plant it even later, though, and harvest in early summer instead of spring.

Q. Can Heirloom Solutions garlic that I grow then be used for garlic seed stock?
A. Yes.
Q. Is garlic really as healthy as everyone says?
A. It really is. The National Institutes of Health medical studies database (otherwise known as “Pub Med”) lists over 5,200 studies involving garlic. Here’s just a tiny fraction of what garlic can do for you:

  • Heart health: Garlic supports healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels. It supports fibrinolysis, which slows blood coagulation and helps dissolve blood clots. It supports aortic flexible, and inhibits blood platelet stickiness. (In animal studies, it reduces arterial plaque deposits by 50%.)
  • Immune health: Garlic supports the activation of macrophages, which engulf and destroy foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses.

The list of what garlic can do goes on and on. Why bother with “an apple a day”? Daily garlic is the way to go.
Q. Are there different kinds of garlic, and if so, are there any guidelines on how to choose the right one for my climate?
A. We carry five different varieties (first come, first served, so don’t put off ordering), and while all of them do perform well in most climates, you may notice one is particularly suited to your climate or your preferences more than another. If your first choice is sold out, don’t hesitate to plant another variety instead. You should still get great results.

  • Chesnok Red (also known as Shvelisi) originates from The Republic of Georgia. This widely adapted variety can withstand extremely harsh winters. Cloves are purple striped and easy to peel. It’s one of the best garlics for baking and roasting. It keeps for up to 6 months in good storage conditions. Hardneck, 8-12 cloves per bulb, 6-8 bulbs per pound.
  • Chet’s Italian Red was handed down from the late Chet Stevenson of Tonasket, Washington. Chet found this variety growing wild in an abandoned garden in the 1960s and very carefully refined the strain over the next 25 years. It’s a good keeper and great for roasting. Softneck, 12-20 cloves per bulb, 6-8 bulbs per pound.
  • German Extra Hardy is our best performing garlic, year after year. It’s a very sturdy plant with an extremely strong root system. It has a strong garlic flavor when raw but is sweet when cooked. Roast it for a rich, sweet, caramely flavor. If you can’t decide which garlic to get, this is always a safe bet. Hardneck, 5-7 cloves per bulb, 5-6 bulbs per pound.
  • Music is an Italian variety brought to Canada by Al Music in the 1980s from his homeland. Its large purple striped cloves are easy to peel. Raw, it has a spicy flavor; cooked, it’s sweet and mild; roast it, and it caramelizes deliciously. Hardneck, 5-6 cloves per bulb, 5-6 bulbs per pounds.
  • Persian Star (also known as Samarkand) was collected in the 1980s in Uzbekistan. Its beautiful striped bulbs yield a pleasant flavor with a mild spicy zing. This great all-purpose variety delivers consistent yields. Hardneck, 6-9 cloves per bulb, 6-8 bulbs per pound.

The Real “Most Wonderful Time of the Year…”

by Krystal Krogman

To the South, a snowfall is a phenomenon. A beautiful rarity… once the initial Armageddon panic of a quarter-inch of snow dies down and they’re safely at home. And to an extent, I’d have to agree. Undisturbed snow is a beautiful thing… However, I’m not sure it warrants a song about it being the “most wonderful time of the year.”

Winter for most gardening folks means they’re cooped up. Their season has ended, and now they get to dream of sugar snap peas – instead of sugar plums.

A few years ago, a popular office supply store used this song as their commercial theme. It showed parents going through the aisles of their store throwing school supplies into their carts, while their children seemed less than enthused about the impending school year. To be honest, it is still my dad’s theme song come August.

I find that I have to respectfully disagree with Mr. Williams and this office supply store. Neither December nor late August is the “most wonderful time of the year.” I personally look forward to spring and summer. No other time of the year can you see as many delights… and if you look at the lyrics of Andy William’s song “It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” many of the lyrics can be applied in the late spring to early summer seasons too. Parties for hosting… Marshmallows for toasting… Scary ghost stories… loved ones near… even caroling (or singing) around a fire. Personally, a camping excursion or backyard get-together is much more fun than being cooped up looking out the windows…

Even more so than my family’s always entertaining cookouts, I love the smells of this season. Freshly mowed grass, cedar burning in the fire pits, the aroma of the blooming lilies (we have upped our number of lily plants to eight this year)… and the vegetables. Nothing says summer quite like the smell of tomatoes and corn. The smell on your hands after tending to the tomato plants really makes you question whether to wash the dirt off when you’re done for the evening.

Our garden is in full grow-mode… Thankfully we’ve been blessed with an abundance of rain, so not too many of our plants have been scorched from the heat. We’ve ceased the radishes for the season. Now we are concentrating on the other plants that, at first glance, may give the impression of overgrown weeds in the sunniest back corner of our yard. In fact, though, it is a thriving garden… and as a beginning gardener, I couldn’t be more thrilled. We’ve got our first five or six tomatoes growing and many more flowers on the six plants. Our beans have definitely lived up to their “bush” type and are producing delightfully large Provider green beans. We’ve plucked our first harvest of pea pods, although they never made it into the freezer. Fresh Little Marvel peas are just too good to pass up! Lastly, we’ve started to see some definite vining action on the cucumbers.

Our days are long, but the laughter and memories are plenty. We learn new things every day. Last night, in fact, I taught my three year old how to not only pick the beans but how to “snap” them. A week ago, he was learning where to find his treasured peas (hidden in the pea pods). He loves looking for the flowers that will, hopefully, blossom into fruit… and sometimes has to be reminded that not all fruits are quite ready to pick. (Twice I had to remind him the slicing tomatoes are not ready yet when they’re still very green and barely an inch and a half wide. At last count, we’re at just over two dozen tomatoes, and several more dozens of flowers!)

Yes, the blessings are plentiful in our yard… and I’m not just talking about the vegetable harvest. Sitting on my back porch with my loved ones near, and the fire glowing in the fire pit, I find our gardening souls are peaceful, and our stomachs satisfied with s’mores. How is your garden going and your soul growing?

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