Sunday, June 29, 2014

Glorious Garlic Scapes

'Q's Special Medley Mesclun Lettuce
The early home grown vegetable harvest is hands down one the most looked forward to garden activity. Second has to be planting tomatoes. There's so much hope in the beginning for tomato plants to grow quickly with no hitches like hail, cold nights or extreme heat too early in the season (we're 3 for 3). For my garden that also includes early blight or the psyllid invasion (0 for 2 as of this writing).

'Bordeaux' Spinach
Up to now (almost July 1), cool-season vegetables have been the "garden stars" and rightfully so...fresh picked 'Q's special medley mesclun' lettuce that goes from garden to a quick rinse then onto the table faster than Ferris gulping down a bison strip.  Or 'bordeaux' spinach with gorgeous red stems that tastes as good as the nutrition it bestows. It all tastes first-rate, but not nearly in the same state, province or territory as fresh cut garlic scapes.  Yes, I said garlic "scapes," check the photos below.  They are the flowering, bobbing, curling wands that emerge from hardneck garlic plants early in the summer. A friend of mine likes them so much that she puts them in a vase and makes a scape arrangement.  She has the Martha Stewart knack of making the simplest do dad or in this case, garden scapes a focal point masterpiece!

A quick garlic primer - garlic is best planted in the fall from late September to mid-October in Colorado so it goes through our winters nicely tucked in ready to start putting on growth as soon as soils warm up in the spring.  It doesn't care if it is rained on, snowed on or hailed on which happened seven times already this spring.  There are two types, softneck and hardneck. The difference is garlic taste, size of bulbs, shelf life and those lovely scapes.  Grow some of each type, there are varieties within each type. Check out Ted Jordan Meredith's book - everything you'll EVER need to know to grow garlic. The Complete Book of Garlic.  It is so thoroughly written with beautiful photography that it doubles as a coffee table book. 

Hardneck scapes are cut off a few weeks before harvest so more energy is put into the bulb getting larger.  These green number two pencil thick shoots are gourmet garlic gold!!! You can pay $5.99 or more a pound for them at Whole Pay Check or grow and harvest your own. Grill, roast, simmer, flavor, pesto, or grate over cereal, just do it. They have a strong garlic taste, but no garlic heat or indigestion issues as some experience with garlic cloves. In two words, they're divine. They will store for close to a month in the produce drawer of your refrigerator. Need more information, come take my class at Denver Botanic Gardens this September - Growing Great Garlic

Ready for cold storage


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