Year one of growing garlic in my own garden is going well so far. I wasn’t sure how they would fare as there are squirrels in the neighborhood, and they love digging everything up. In addition to these urban pests, the soil where I planted the bulbs last fall is not ideal. It’s mostly clay under the top couple of inches of soil. In terms of climate control, the spot is near a vent, which means that warm air does blow near the planting site. But they made it through the winter and spring and the scapes finally made an appearance a few weeks ago and most of them have already made one loop. I’ve harvest a couple of a the scapes, but not all yet. The actual bulbs of garlic are not yet ready. I’m waiting for the first third of the leaves to die back first.
Many gardeners agree that harvesting the scapes is important in order for the plant to focus all its energy toward producing a big bulb. The scape is the extension of the neck, and at the end of the scape is the flower bud. If your garlic is not sending up scapes, not to panic. Did you plant softneck garlic? From my understanding, only hardneck garlic produces scapes. I planted Duganski garlic this year, which is a hardneck garlic. For a good visual on the difference between hardneck and softneck, see here. To learn more about subtypes, The Spruce provides some good information. This commercial grower prefers to leave the scapes on the plant, so it really is a personal preference. I like harvesting because I like the flavour of scapes. They are great in omelettes!
Duganski is a mid-season, hardneck, purple stripe type. Purple outer wrappers protect the violet-tinged cloves that burst with a fiery flavor and mellow out with a pleasant aftertaste. The large bulbs holds 8-10 cloves and is known to store very well for up to 8-10 months. But I don’t think my harvest will last that long, as I only have around 8-10 plants.
Finally, it’s important to cure your garlic after gently harvesting them. Curing allows the outer layers to dry out, which forms a protective cover around the bulb. Note that curing is only necessary for long-term storage. You can skip this step if you are going to use your garlic immediately.