Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Garlic, Straighten Up

    I’ve heard a couple of ways you can tell if garlic is ready to harvest.  They usually revolve around looking at the leaves and when certain ones start drying out and turning brown, you can dig the garlic plant up.  For some reason that was never a very satisfactory clue for me, but then at a gardening workshop I heard that when the garlic stem straightens up they are ready.
    When garlic grows and starts to mature, the top of the plant curls.  It has a thing on the end called a “scape”.  Most people cut off the scape, which can be used as garlic flavoring in food, but the times we did this the bag of garlic scapes ended up in the back of our refrigerator, and were forgotten about, until we ended up having to throw them away.   When the scape is cut off of the garlic plant, the stem doesn’t uncurl.
    I liked the idea of letting the scape remain and letting the stem straighten up to indicate when the garlic is ready to dig, so that’s what we have done the last couple of years.  We don’t waste the scapes though, once we dig and hang the garlic plant to dry, we cut off the scapes, which at this point look like tiny garlic bulbs, and have started to form a harder, garlic-like shell, Joan puts the scapes in a blender and grinds them up, shell and all.
    This we keep in the fridge and when we need garlic for cooking, we just spoon out some from the jar of ground-up scapes.  Its a better method than trying to keep the “fresh” scapes in a bag, because when they are in a jar, we end up using them all up.   
    As you can see from the photo, this year’s garlic still has some straightening to do before it is ready to harvest.  Keeping the scape and letting the stem straighten seems like a more definite method of knowing when it’s ready, than looking at the drying out leaves.

You can see my paintings at:   www.davidmarchant.ca

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