The last scape standing in the garlic patch meant it was time to get out the spading fork for The Great Garlic Harvest.
I had cut off all the other scapes earlier in the season, but I left one Chesnock Red stalk intact so it could signal when it was time to let the harvest begin.
Hardneck varieties of garlic produce a flower stalk and, if the stalk is left on, it can take energy away from the bulb while it’s growing and affect bulb size.
The other scapes had been trimmed earlier this summer while they were young and I used them in all kinds of recipes. Now, this lone scape told me it was ready.
Even if I hadn’t left a single scape standing, I could see the bottom leaves of the garlic were starting to yellow. If left in the ground too long, they’d start to separate and could rot.
A spading fork helped me lift the bulbs up from the ground and I was careful not to get too close to keep from bruising them.
I’d planted this batch of garlic in late fall like I usually do. However, I’d never planted this much garlic before. I guess I was overcome with the feeling of fall and the baskets of garlic looked so tempting that I bought four different varieties. In addition to the Chesnock Red, I planted Music, Romanian Red and Inchelium—a softneck variety.
As I harvested the rows of beautiful bulbs I realized I had gotten carried away that day at the garden center. Now I have over two dozen heads of garlic, all bundled up and curing in the basement. After they dry, I’ll be able to clean them, trim away the roots, cut off the tops and fill several mesh bags for storing.
Soon it’ll be time to break out the old garlic baker.
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