A garlic scape is the young flower bud from a garlic bulb. As the garlic matures the scapes peek out from the plant, stretch up, and then curl around in spirals as they grow.
Scapes are pretty and interesting to watch as they grow but they draw energy from the garlic plant, and you want the plant to put that energy into the bulb, not the flower. So the scapes have to go, preferably as early as possible. You can snap them right off the plant or clip them with scissors. (that picture up top is from a bunch of years back when I let them grow a little too long.)
The scapes do not go to waste, however. They are totally edible. They have a milder flavor than bulb garlic, but can still be used in place of garlic in any recipe. And since last year’s garlic is getting on in age, but this year’s garlic isn’t ready yet, its nice to have something garlicky in the house.
I have a lot of garlic in the garden, so there were a lot of scapes to pick. Normally I just wrap them up and put them in the fridge and use them as I need them — they last a long time — but I was thinking I might make a garlic pesto with these.
How is the actual garlic growing, you ask? Well…
I’ve had a lot of trouble the last few years with garlic bottom rot; the plant will grow just fine and then wilt and die and when you pull it up it’s all mushy and gross on the bottom end. Best as I can tell from The Google this is because of a fungus in the soil that is extremely difficult to get rid of.
In an attempt to stave off at least some of the rot this year I’ve been keeping this bed pretty dry, which means the leaves are starting to die back and it all looks kind of ugly. But there are good-sized bulbs under the soil ready to go, and it’ll only be a few weeks before I can harvest it all. Good thing, too, because I have sweet potato plants coming in next week to fill the space.