What if I told you there was a 3-second trick you could do that would not only make your garlic bulbs 20-30% bigger but also generate some killer pesto and hummus? In this tutorial I’m going to show you how do just that by harvesting the garlic scape from your garlic plants.
Last year I grew 632 lbs. of food in my suburban front yard and this year I’m aiming for 1000. Hopefully today’s garlic scape harvest will get me even closer to that goal! I’m gonna weigh today’s harvest at the end of this post, so stick around to follow along in my progress!
Why Remove the Garlic Scape?
So, why remove the garlic scape?
The garlic scape is the flower stem found in the center of hardneck and elephant garlic varieties. If left to its own devices, garlic will direct all its energy into reproduction and eventually flower, but if we remove the flower, it redirects it’s energy back into the root, the garlic bulb, which we definitely want bigger, because… Italian food… duh!
In fact, according to 2017 research at the University of Guelph in Ontario, they found that garlic yield increased by a whopping 20-30% when the garlic scape was removed.
Another reason to harvest the scapes is because they’re tasty. Garlic scapes have the flavor of garlic, but milder, so use in any recipe that calls for garlic—just use more!
You can use the scapes chopped up in stir fry, pureed for hummus or pesto, in salads, soups or sautés, roasted whole, pickled, basically anywhere you’d like some zing. In the kitchen, you can treat scapes the same way you’d treat garlic, scallions, green beans or asparagus.
When To Harvest Garlic Scapes
I planted my garlic in the fall and I’m in Zone 7. So I start seeing scapes in early June.
Harvesting the scape as soon as you see the flower is best if you want to maximize garlic bulb size. But if you’d like to get decent-sized scapes too, harvest the scape when it starts to curl into a half circle or full circle. This is a good middle point that increases bulb size but also gives you a decent amount of tender scapes.
If you wait much longer after this, the scape will be too woody to eat and you won’t get the benefit of removing the scape.
I’d love to know—are you looking for bigger scapes or bigger bulbs? And how are you using your scapes? Let us know in the comments below!
How To Harvest Garlic Scapes
You can cut garlic scapes with pruners, but snapping it off is quicker.
Make sure you don’t cut off any of the leaves though. That same Canadian University found that yield could be reduced by up to 25% by cutting leaves, as many farmers do with sickle bar mowers.
You can store scapes up to a month in the refrigerator or freeze them for a winter treat.
But before we do that, let’s weigh these suckers and see how much we got. Nice! 2.6 pounds! It’s June and I’m up to almost 100 pounds already now including this.
If this tutorial helped you out let me know if the comments. And tell me how your garlic scape harvesting went! Subscribe to my email newsletter or my YouTube channel for more garden tips and tutorials.
Keep gardening like a boss and I’ll see you guys soon!