Hardneck Garlic: Scapes, Bulbils & Umbels

in gardening •  last year 

When you plant hardneck garlic they will develop what is called a scape (flower stalk). This is a thick curly stalk in the center of the leaves. You'll recognize the scape by its tubular shape and distinctive curl.

In order to grow a large bulb, the scapes are usually removed from the plant. These scapes can be refrigerated for quite a while or frozen for longer term use. They can be used as a mild garlic seasoning or pickled.

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When you don't remove the scape you get what is called an Umbel. The umbel (or flower) contains anywhere from twenty five to two hundred tiny cloves called bulbils. These little bulbils can be eaten just like a clove of garlic, or planted.

If you plant them, it takes anywhere from two to four years for them to become a fully grown bulb. The benefits are that you have seed stock that is acclimated to your soil and environment and you are getting a lot of seed stock for no cost!

Here is a guide on how to plant them if you'd like to try it: Growing Garlic from Umbels/Bulbils

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[@walkerland ]
Building a greener, more beautiful world one seed at a time.
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Want to know an insider tip from the top gardeners? For greater growing success, “start” your seedlings inside! An easy way to do this is by using old toilet paper rolls!

Your photography skills in this post are exceptional!!! SO clear!

My first ever garlic harvest is out there right now, in the ground. I saw the scapes and stem ends peeking through about a month ago. I only did about a dozen to see how well they would do so now I'm anxious for them to continue growing and for spring to arrive.

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Thanks! :)

ooh, so exciting! Garlic is such a great crop. So resilient and carefree.

Perfect timing. Our garlic is up about 6 inches now and we are talking about when to cut scapes. We may leave a few now to develop seeds. Thanks.

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Cut the scapes when they make the first curl or when less than the diameter of pencil.Garlic scapes - 1st harvest crop June 2016.jpg

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Thanks. Looking forward to trying sauteed scapes. We've never had them before.

Well I can see the Hubs already commented but I am equally excited about your post. So much info I can use for our garlic crop. I so hope ours turns out. Your pictures are beautiful. Resteeming!

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Garlic is so resilient. I'm sure it will be great. I grow way too much garlic. I was hoping to make it a side business but we've got to get our soil under control first. Heavy clay everywhere I look!

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This year will be an eye opener for me regarding the soil. I know I need to do work but did not get a soil test yet. Our garlic seems to be doing great and we may plant more next year as we have two friends at the market that want to buy it from us. Maybe one day I will be a garlic farmer :) One question.... if you don't mind. How low do you cut the scapes? Thank you so much!

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If you slide your hand down the scape there's a point where it will meet the leaves. I cut it close to there. You don't want to cut any leaves off. We have dreams of being garlic farmers - one day!

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Thank you so much. I got it now! Maybe we will both be successful garlic farmers one day :)

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Maybe! That would be wonderful indeed! :)

I've never pickled garlic scapes. Sound yummy! Great info. I haven't tried growing garlic, but I might after reading this. Thanks!

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Garlic is so resilient - it's a great crop for the garden!

hey @walkerland, beautiful, informative post as always! ;) have you tried this? i've been curious about it, especially because, as you say, the little bulbs are acclimatized to your soil. really interested in developing place-based strains like this.

we've been letting some cloves just stay in the soil and do the whole split in place thing and just create patches of smaller, but tasty garlic. also curious how that will turn out. i do love hug beautiful sexy garlics, but also curious about creating "no plant" garlics basically available year round in the soil... we also have "walking onions/egyptian onions" unto this effect.

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you know, I never thought about just leaving some bulbs in the soil. I think that's cool. I might try that this year! I love just letting things do what nature intended them to do. I will also look into the "walking onions/egyptian onions" because that sounds right up my alley. Hopefully our climate is favourable to that!

Yes, we have grown from umbels. We had trouble with flooding so I lost most of them but I have a handful that grew. We pulled them up they were cute little miniature bulbs. They were replanted (in a better no flood location) and I guess it's just a matter of replanting each fall until you get the size you want.

They come up as very delicate wisps so weeding and mulching is really important. I'll dig up some photos if you want.

I love the scapes! I make garlic scape pesto from every one. One year I tried growing the softneck kinds, but there were no scapes! Never again! I freeze it and eat it all year long.

I grow far in excess of what I need each year, select the biggest and best bulbs of cloves for seed, and eat the rest.

Garlic scape pesto crop June 2016.jpg

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That pesto looks lovely! I really like it but the rest of my family isn't as fond so I just chop it up and toss it in our meals etc. I've tried dehydrating it but the flavour vanishes.

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I'm the only one who eats the pesto here, too. That's ok, more for me. :))