Garlic in June

Hardneck garlic (Allium sativum ssp. ophioscorodon).


The garlic, which was planted last fall on Columbus Day, is one of the big success stories of my vegetable garden. See the posts Garlic, Garlic in April, and Vegetable garden in June for the details on planting and growing garlic.


The big garlic news is the emerging of the garlic blossoms, or scapes, on June 13, as seen in the photos above. On the garlic stalk, they seem graceful and uniquely beautiful.


The photo above is of the scapes after they have been snapped off. I scattered them out on the picnic table to count and admire them. 64 garlic cloves were planted, and 64 scapes were snapped off on June 13. I was quite smug with myself that the garlic was performing by the numbers. Then, the next day, I found 1 more scape. 65 scapes. I counted them several times, so I’m pretty sure the numbers are accurate. Probably 1 planted clove was actually a double clove. I think the garlic gods are saying, not so fast, we don’t always go by the numbers. It’s like a baker’s dozen, always 13. It’s nice the error is on the plus side.

After keeping out a few scapes for cooking, I deposited the rest in the compost pile. A few go a long way, and they don’t keep for long. They are particularly good in scrambled eggs, or any dish calling for garlic. It’s important to snap them off right away, since, just like daffodils or any bulb plant, the more plant energy that goes into the blossom, the less is left to grow a big healthy bulb or head underground.

Now is the time to irrigate copiously and also hope for good rainstorms. When the leaves start to yellow in July, it will be time to cut back on the water and prepare for garlic harvest.

At present, I have 3 garlic heads, about 24 cloves of garlic, left from last year. Perhaps I’ve been too careful in conserving them. It’s time to use up the old in anticipation of the new, with a few scapes to aid the transition. New garlic is more pungent than the old and releases more liquid when smashed. Both are good in their own way. It’s a treat to have all the seasons of garlic. Homegrown is so much better than store-bought. There is no comparison.

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