by Connie Oswald Stofko
When you grow garlic plants in Western New York, you don’t harvest the bulbs until late summer, but you can harvest the scapes right now.
Your hard neck garlic plants have probably developed curlicue stems called scapes, which are the flower stalks. While they look great in your garden, if you leave them in place they will divert the plant’s energy from the underground bulb. If you want a nice large head of garlic, cut off the scapes.
There’s an upside– You can eat the scapes. It’s like getting a double harvest from one garlic plant.
Scapes have a garlicy flavor that’s not as strong as the flavor from a clove of garlic. You can eat the scapes raw or use them in a variety of cooked dishes.
If you don’t cut off the scape, it will produce bulblets, which are seeds. You can plant these seeds, but the bulb of garlic produced will be small. It will take three years to produce a large bulb of garlic when you start with bulblets.
You’ll get a larger bulb of garlic sooner if you start by planting a clove of garlic. What you eat is what you plant. One clove of garlic will produce one plant. Plant the clove with the pointy side up and the rough section down.
Plant cloves of garlic after the last full moon in October. A good rule of thumb is that you can plant garlic in late October through November, and sometimes as late as December, weather permitting. Make sure you plant the clove pointy side up and rough section down. See more on growing garlic here.