Gardentalk — Why timing is critical for harvesting garlic scapes

Garlic scapes
Sam Bertoni checks the garlic at Orsi Organic Produce for any scapes that are beginning to loop on themselves. He will eventually pick the scape in the foreground that is already bending over. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)

If you’re a Juneau area gardener who is growing garlic, you may have noticed that the plant’s scapes are bending over. Pick them now.

In the latest edition of Gardentalk, Joe Orsi explains that softneck garlic usually sold in stores is missing a central scape or seed stalk when it grows, while hardneck garlic has a round, bulbous central stem or scape that curls into a loop in the early summer.

“They will keep growing and form a flower stock, and they’ll twist up and then untwist and form a flower,” Orsi said. “And if you don’t pull the scapes off the hard neck, it pulls all the energy away from the bulb and you end up with a very small bulb.”

He said that you have go through your garlic crop and physically snap off the scapes when they start to bend over.

Orsi is a former master gardener and owner of Orsi Organic Produce, a small commercial operation in Juneau that grows garlic, rhubarb, squash and other vegetables.

He said he likes using diced up garlic scapes in omelettes or soups any other dish where he wants to add a garlic flavor.

Orsi also makes pesto with minced garlic scapes, pine nuts, a little olive oil, basil, salt and parmesan cheese.

“And they keep a long time too,” Orsi said. “You can keep scapes for months in the refrigerator. They just hold really well.”

 

Washed garlic scapes
Freshly picked garlic scapes get a light washing. (Matt Miller/KTOO)

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