Garlic scape season has arrived here in Ontario and I am so stoked. I’m too old to say stoked aren’t I?
That’s better… I’m so excited!
I’ve purchased garlic scapes from farmers’ markets in the past but I’ve never grown garlic myself and I must say it’s been an immensely satisfying crop to grow. It was the first thing we planted in the fall when we moved here and harvesting from those plants now almost feels like we’ve gone full circle somehow. Almost full circle I say because we’ve got about another month before we can harvest the actual garlic.
Hardneck and Softneck Garlic
Garlic comes in two varieties; hardneck and softneck or sometimes referred to as bolting and nonbolting garlic. While the actual classification of the garlic plant (Allium sativum) is far more complicated than that, for our purposes let’s just stick tot he hardneck vs. softneck definitions.
The main difference is that hardneck varieties of garlic (like the one we are growing) will bolt and therefore produce a stem with a flower. It is this portion of the plant that is called “the scape”. Softneck garlic does not produce a scape and is the kind that some folks like to braid.
Generally speaking hardneck varieties tend to do better in harsh and cold winters which is why we chose to grow it as Ontario can get some pretty cold winter temperatures. Hardneck varieties have more complex flavours as well and tend to produce fewer yet larger individual cloves.
When to Harvest Scapes
In June I messaged my friend Anita as I was growing impatient regarding the garlic situation. I was watching fellow homesteaders harvest their scapes and make delicious yummies from them. She told me I’d have to wait a while longer; end of June or early July. “Just when you’ve given up on scapes they will appear!” and sure enough she was right. I’ve been able to harvest from about half of my garlic plants and the rest won’t be too far behind it.
Once the scape is taller than the rest of your plant you are ready to harvest. Depending on the plant that will be one or two loops. To harvest you can use scissors to cut the scape of you can hold onto the lower stem and simply pull/snap it off.
Garlic Scape Basil Pesto
For my first round of harvesting I decided the scapes would be an amazing addition to my basil pesto and I was right! My family loves pesto and we eat it all year round. This recipe makes about two 250 ml mason jars full and it freezes great. We freeze all of our pesto and enjoy it through out the year.
For those who love visual instruction please check out my YouTube video
Happy pesto making!