Tag Archives: purple glazer garlic

Harvesting Garlic Scapes

Last year I ventured into the world of growing garlic for the first time (Planting Garlic and Warding Off the Vampires).  It was great having homegrown garlic all winter, and even into early spring.

terra cotta garlic keeper

I am totally sold on how much better homegrown is than the store bought variety, and it couldn’t be easier to grow.  This past fall, I planted another crop of garlic, this time planting Music and Purple Glazer hardneck garlic varieties and Susanville softneck garlic (Another Fall Crop In the Ground).  I doubled the amount I grew last year since I had space both here at home and in my Door County, WI garden.

Last fall brought the early green shoots that sprout before winter sets in.

garlic

This spring, it became obvious that none of the Susanville survived in either location and I’m not sure why.  Maybe it was too cold late in the late winter/spring.

But that serves as a good reminder to plant more than one variety when testing something new in your vegetable garden.  Spring also came a little later to Door County, so those plants have been a couple of weeks behind the ones at home.

garlic

And that turned out be a good thing for harvesting scapes this year.

garlic scapes

Scapes are the garlic flower stalks that twist and turn when young, and end with a terminal pod containing garlic bulbils.  It’s these young, tender, twisting and turning scapes that are a delicacy to eat.  Removing them also tells the garlic to put its energy into making the garlic bulb and not producing new seeds.

Last year, I totally missed the season and the scapes grew straight and woody.  I also didn’t really know what to do with them, so ended up cutting them off and throwing them in the compost pile.

This year I was ready, but went on vacation and came back to straight, tall, woody scapes! Ugh!!

garlic scapes

I had missed it again!  But I did have another opportunity.  I was hoping that since the WI garden was a couple of weeks behind, I might have better timing.

garlic scapes

Success!!

garlic scapes

I harvested them by snapping the scapes off at the base near the first set of leaves.  Then removed the swollen tip, and the rest is ready to use.  I used the first small batch to season some sauteed spinach with pine nuts.

garlic scapes

I usually find that garlic overpowers the spinach, but the scapes were perfect.  Just a delicate hint of garlic to jazz up the spinach.  For more recipe ideas, check out my Pinterest page.

The rest I’m going to coarsely chop, blanch for 20 seconds in boiling water and freeze to use later.

garlic scapes

The production of scapes also means that garlic is almost ready to harvest.

garlic

Ideally, garlic should be harvested when there are 5-6 green leaves remaining and the rest brown.  Fewer green leaves mean fewer wrappers keeping the bulbs tight and ultimately healthier for storage.  I’m anxious to again have garlic hanging on the porch to cure (Warding Off The Vampires).  But in the meantime, I’m enjoying the little tease of garlic that the scapes are giving me.

 

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Warding off the Vampires

Well not really, but that’s what I think of when I see the garlic curing in the screen room.

Garlic

Last fall I planted garlic for the first time (see “Planting Garlic”) and I can happily say I probably have enough harvested this summer to carry me through the winter.  I planted 3 different varieties, 2 hardneck (Chesnok Red and Purple Glazer) and 1 soft neck (California Early) from Botanical Interests.

chesnok red garlic

Softneck varieties tend to grow in a wider variety of climates and can be grown in warmer areas, last longer in storage and are good for braiding.  They also tend to be a little milder in taste.  Hardneck varieties require some time in frozen ground, so are not recommended for warmer climates.   In the spring, they produce a tall edible stem called a “scape”  that should be cut and can be used as a mild garlic seasoning.  The hard neck varieties are also generally known for their stronger taste.

I planted the cloves in 2 different locations and one location definitely did better than the other.  Within a couple of weeks of planting, green sprouts could be see popping up as expected.  Then winter settled in and the garlic just had to hibernate and do its thing. I tried to mark it clearly, but as usual by spring I only sort of knew where it was planted and which variety was which.  Typical 🙁

By early spring, the garlic was sprouting.

garlic

By late spring the hardneck varieties were sending up scapes.  I trimmed them to send the plant’s energy into producing healthy garlic heads, but unfortunately didn’t get around to using them in any recipes.  Next time for sure.

garlic

garlic

By July, the garlic was ready for harvest.  How do you know when to harvest?  It can be a little tricky, but usually you want to wait until several lower leaves turn brown, but the top leaves are still green.  Harvesting the garlic is easy, but you need to be gentle.  Unlike onions, you can’t just yank it out of the ground.  Too easy to damage the head or accidentally tear off the leaves.  Garlic cures better when the leaves are still on.

So grab a trowel and dig gently around the bulbs to loosen the soil.  Be careful not to hit the heads and damage the tight cluster of cloves.

garlic
Gently pull to release the garlic from the soil.

Garlic

Gently shake off the dirt, without disturbing the head.  It’s fine to leave some dirt on the head and roots, it’ll come off easier when it’s dry.

Garlic

Now it’s time to find a spot to cure the garlic so that it’ll be ready to store for the winter.  Garlic should be cured in a protected area, like a garage or porch, out of direct sunlight and where there is reasonable air circulation.  It should be hung with the leaves  and roots still attached.  I hung mine in the screen porch.  On particularly hot days, I turned on the overhead fan to keep the air circulating.

Garlic

Curing can take three to eight weeks and you know it’s done when the roots are dry and shriveled, the leaves completely brown and dried, and the skin feels dry and papery.  This step should not be skipped or the garlic will not last properly through the winter.

Once done, the leaves and roots are trimmed off, and the remaining dirt gently brushed off.  Be careful not to expose any of the cloves.  The garlic is now ready for storage.   Garlic can be stored in any type of breathable, dry container such as mesh bags, paper bags, cardboard boxes or ceramic pots with holes.  Under perfect home storage conditions, the garlic should keep for 6-8 months.  Ideally to achieve that, the garlic should be stored in a cool, dark room with good air circulation.  Not always easy to do, but just do the best you can.  I am going to store some in an unfinished part of my basement and the rest in an open container in the coolest cupboard in the kitchen.  Kind of a test to see what works better.

garlic

garlic

No matter what you do to store the garlic, never put it in the refrigerator or store in a sealed container.  That will lead to early sprouting and the garlic will quickly become bitter, soft and moldy.  Time to toss it if it starts to sprout, it’s spoiling at this point.  Most importantly, NEVER  store raw garlic in oil at room temperature.  This can lead to botulism and death!

As a last resort if your garlic seems like it’s not going to last as long as you’d like, it can be safely frozen.  It will change the flavor and texture to freeze raw, so to help preserve the flavor the peeled cloves can be put in oil and stored in the freezer (but again, not in oil at room temperature).  Other ways to store garlic include drying, dehydrating or even turning it into garlic butter.

I’ve already ordered more garlic for next year.  I was a little late ordering, so this year I ordered Music, Purple Glazer and Susanville garlic from Territorial Seed Company.   Can’t wait to get it in the ground.  It’s not too late to order yours, but act quickly.  Lots of varieties have already sold out so you may need to check around a few sites.   Planting season is 6-8 weeks before the likely hard frost date for your area, so it is quickly coming upon us here in zone 5.  Some reputable places to try are Botanical Interests,  Territorial Seed Company and Burpee Seeds.  Do you have a favorite place to order from?

Wherever you decide to order it from, don’t try to use the garlic you buy from the grocery store.  Much of that garlic, unless locally grown, has been treated to prolong its life during storage and transportation.  Some may sprout, but anything you get to grow from them will be of undesirable quality.

Happy Planting!

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Planting Garlic

I decided to try something new in the garden this fall–garlic.I’ve been reading about how to grow it, and it seems pretty straightforward.  Hope so! It should be planted in the fall, 6-8 weeks before a hard frost is likely. Unfortunately, that means I’m probably a couple of weeks late when I looked the date up on this useful frost/freeze/hard freeze table on Dave’s Garden.

I think the hardest part of growing the garlic was finding a place to plant it. I needed a spot now, that will stay free until mid July when it can be harvested.  (That’s part of why I needed to wait until now to plant it.)  I chose 2 locations, one in each of my raised beds where I could pull out existing plants that were pretty much done for the season.  I’m not sure how it will do in either of these locations, but I figure at least one should  be good.

I chose 3 different varieties, 2 hardneck (Chesnok Red and Purple Glazer) and 1 soft neck (California Early) from Botanical Interests.

chesnok red garlic

Chesnok Red Garlic

chesnok red garlic

Chesnok Red Garlic (hardneck)

Early California Garlic

California Early Garlic (softneck)

Purple Glazer

Purple Glazer Garlic (hardneck)

Softneck varieties tend to grow in a wider variety of climates and can be grown in warmer areas, last longer in storage and are good for braiding.  They also tend to be a little milder in taste.  Hardneck varieties require some time in frozen ground, so are not recommended for warmer climates.   In the spring, they produce a tall edible stem called a “scape”  that should be cut and can be used as a mild garlic seasoning.  The hard neck varieties are also generally known for their stronger taste.

hardneck garlic

Garlic hardneck “stem”

To plant the garlic, separate into individual cloves, but leave the peel on.

chesnok red garlic

In a spot that will get full sun to part-shade, plant the cloves with the pointy end up and the “root” end down, at a depth of 2-4 inches.  Space the cloves 4-6 inches apart and rows 12 inches apart.  Cover with 2-4 inches of mulch to preserve moisture and insulate against the cold.

chesnok red garlic

Here’s the 2 locations I selected.  Since they need to overwinter, I was extra careful to mark where the cloves are since I know I tend to lose plant markers, and to mark off the whole area to be sure I don’t dig in it in the spring.

growing garlic

growing garlic

I’m looking forward to seeing it come up in the spring.   Have you ever grown garlic?

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