Those pretty spiral stems that form above your garlic in June are edible, and by removing them you’ll improve your garlic harvest!
You’ll notice in early to mid June that your garlic is sending up a stalk in from the center of the plant. The stalk is thicker than the leaves, and is called the garlic scape. The scape, if left on the plant, will form a flower and then seed (you can eat those tiny seeds! using a garlic press is the best way to do that!). By cutting off the scape you are asking the plant to send all of it’s energy in to increasing the bulb size, rather than in putting energy toward flowers and seed. Since the bulb is what we eat, we recommend cutting the scape. Plus, scapes are delicious and can be used just like garlic, but they are ready a month or two before the garlic bulb. Win, win!
To cut your scape, wait until the center stalk completely forms and grows above the rest of the plant. As it grows up it will begin to curl or spiral upward. At that point, cut the stalk as far down as you can without cutting any leaves off.
Not all of your scapes will come at once, so remember to revisit the patch weekly until all the scapes have been removed.
photos: CCF staff