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How (and When) to Harvest Garlic Scapes

Harvesting garlic scapes encourages bigger garlic bulbs, and the delicious scapes can then be cooked! In this post I’ll go over how to harvest garlic scapes.

If you haven’t tried your hand and growing garlic (allium sativum) yet, I highly recommend it! It requires patience (up to 8 months!), but they are incredibly low maintenance, and can be incredibly profitable. 

how to harvest garlic scapes

Growing Garlic

Craig from Profitable Plants Digest claims you can make $8 per sq ft of garlic.

Although certain types of garlic store better. There are two main types of garlic: softneck garlic and hardneck garlic varieties.

The soft neck type have softer green leaves that lend it to being braided into a garlic braid. Their flavor is more mild and if you want to grow the type of garlic you find in the grocery store, you’ll want to grow a softneck varietal.

Hardneck varietals have a more sturdy green garlic leaves and a shorter shelf life.

And one head of garlic can be broken up and each clove replanted to grow a brand new head!

If you’d like more info on growing garlic, check out my quick and dirty cheat sheet on it: Beginner’s Guide to Growing Garlic.

bunches of garlic scapes

This is where I got my garlic bulbs from and I had great success: Country Creek Acres. They sell a great organic, non-GMO product!

If you’re considering growing garlic for profit, you can sell individual garlic bulbs, braided garlic bulbs, and even homemade organic bug spray with garlic.

My favorite way to grow a garlic bed to plant strategically as a companion plant. It repels aphids, carrot rust flies, Japanese beetles, root maggots, spider mites, weevils, whiteflies, and more.

For more info on companion plants, check out my Long List of Companion Plants.

The constituent that makes garlic a great companion plant, also give it medicinal benefits.

If you’re like me and growing garlic for home consumption, check out my list of medicinal benefits of garlic to learn how to use this powerful herbal remedy.

how to eat garlic scapes

What are Garlic Scapes?

If plant your garlic in the Fall, like I do, sometime around late June, your plants will start to send up scapes.

If you plant your garlic crop in late Spring, or early summer they’ll be ready in late summer, early fall.

Garlic scapes are long, cylindrical flower stalks that develop from the center of the garlic plant and eventually create what looks like a gnome’s hat on the end.

If you let scapes mature, they will eventually flower and produce garlic seed pods (which are edible!).

However, at this stage in the plant’s maturity, it switches it’s focus from the root bulb (the garlic bulb) to the flower and the garlic harvest suffers as a result.

That’s why it’s a good idea to harvest or prune scapes. Once these scapes are cut off, the rest of the plant refocuses and sends it’s energy back down to creating larger bulbs.

how to grow garlic scapes

How to Harvest Garlic Scapes

The entire green shoot of the garlic scape is edible, and tastes delicious!

The best way to harvest your scapes, simply take a sharp pair of scissors and cut as far down on the scape as you can without cutting any of the other leaves.

I like to tilt my scape upside down to prevent any of the juices from falling out.

If you’re adventurous (like me!) you can lap up this juice like a honeysuckle. It tastes like the most garlicky salsa you’ve ever had. I love it.

baby helping with the garlic scapes
baby helping with the garlic scapes

When to Harvest Scapes

Generally any time before the flowers have bloomed is a good time to harvest scapes.

But younger is probably better, to prevent the plant from investing too much energy into the scape.

If you have a large patch of garlic, go out every few days, as not all scapes will appear at the same time.

harvested scapes
harvested scapes

These delicious garlic scapes are highly sought after by farm-to-table chefs and your local farmers market and are treated as a special, seasonal, delicacy.

They have a delicious mild garlic flavor.

Once you’ve harvested your scapes, pickle them!

Check out my pickled garlic scapes recipe for a detailed how-to. Pickled garlic scapes are like a sour, garlic-y green bean…delicious!

Or you can preserve them simply in olive oil in the fridge, sauté them in a stir fry or make garlic scape pesto!

Now it’s your turn! Do you have any favorite garlic scape recipes? Or are just getting started growing garlic?