Two years ago, I purchased hardneck garlic bubblets from Sand Hill Preservation. (See here for a difference between softneck and hardneck varieties.) Hardneck varieties fare better in my northern climate.
I learned through this whole process that the bubblets are round garlic seeds that grow from the top of the plant. (See the picture above of the “flower type top.”) The cost was significantly cheaper than buying garlic cloves However, the downside was that it would take two years for me to produce garlic. I could wait, I rationlized.
And boy did I wait.
Planting Garlic in the Fall
The first year, I planted the seeds in the fall, probably later than I should have. Nothing came up. Not a wisp. Nada. Now, I have been known to screw up things in my garden plenty of times. So, was this another one of my screw ups?
I waited with bated breath the whole winter. Mother Nature was kind to me and in the Spring she rewarded me with wispy plants that looked like a leeks when young. But then the heat came, and the wisps died.
Where did the Garlic Wisps Go?
What’s up with this? Did they die? Did I kill them? Again, I played the waiting game.
Fall came, and the wisps were back and taller. Whew! A big sign of relief. (Have “patience, grasshopper.”) But, I knew not to get too excited since I had another year to go.
The Second Year of Growing Garlic
Fast forward through our terrible winter. And Spring at last.
And? (The envelope, please?)
And we have large garlic stalks! I felt like Ed McMahon came to my door with a $1 million dollar check. Success at last! Even I couldn’t screw up the garlic!
Again I waited. Became slightly (okay, really impatient.) like a three year old that keeps nagging you,”is it time yet?”
Is it Time Yet to Pull the Garlic?
And the plant whisperer told me (who by the way is a cross between young Robert Redford and Brad Pitt with a little of Jake Gyllenhaal in them.) when three of the leaves start to yellow and brown, it is time to pull your garlic.
Again, I waited and watched.
What are those Funny Heads on the Top Developing?
How dumb am I? At first blush, I thought, could this be the garlic on top? It looks exactly like garlic with a skin. Did I plant this heirloom variety that has a head in the ground and on top? (Remember, this is my first time growing garlic. Stop laughing at me.)
Even my cousin remarked don’t forget to eat the scapes and pointed to the plant. Apparently the scapes are delicious. I looked puzzled and had no idea what the heck was a scape?
The tops were freaking me out. What was I supposed to do with them?
Cut the Scapes.
Most people (not me) cut the scapes about 6 to 10 inches below the flowering heads. The theory is the garlic heads will be smaller if you don’t cut the flowering heads. Michael Phillips of Heartsong Farms stated that you shouldn’t cut the scapes until about week before harvest. At that point, Phillips says the curled scapes will straighten up. (Note, my garlic did not curl like other hardneck varieties.) He further notes, that waiting until a week before harvest to remove the scapes helps to increase the longevity of storing the garlic.
If you grow garlic, what do you do?
Once you cut your green scapes, cook them! (See scape recipes here.)
The Moment of Truth Digging up the Garlic
The Time had come. Half of the leaves were yellow/brown. I took my small shovel and loosened the dirt around the bulb and pulled. Try not to just pull. Son #3 ripped out a few of the bulbs and one broke.
After you dig out the garlic, simply shake off the dirt. It won’t all come off. I carefully teased the dirt from the end of the bulbs.
Then the bulbs need to be cured for about two week or more so that the garlic can be stored. Some people hang them up in their garage, in a shed, or in the house. I didn’t have a place to hang them so I have the bulbs stretched over the kitchen sink.
What about the Bubblets?
The bubblets can be stored in a brown bag and planted in the fall. I harvested the garlic right before I went on vacation. I didn’t have to time to find out what to do with the bubblets, and quickly stored the bubblets attached to the scapes in the refrigerator. Hopefully, the bubblets will be okay when I return! Do you think they will be okay to plant in a few months despite my “screw-up?”
Join the conversation:
- Have you successfully grown garlic?
- Have you used the bubblets to grow a new group of garlic?
- Cooked the scapes? Any favorite recipe?
- Have you braided your hardneck garlic or simply cut off the tops and stored them in mesh bag?