Aztext Press

Life Off-the-Grid

E-Scaping in the Garden

By Cam Mather

Isn’t that a witty title? This blog is about garlic scapes. Truly a heartbreaking work of staggering genius, or something approximating that.

We’ve just finished our scape cutting in the garden. We are growing about 4,000 heads of garlic to sell this year and we grow a hard neck version. This means it doesn’t braid well but we find it stores very well. Hard neck garlic sends up a scape in June, which is like a long curly stalk that would eventually form a flower and then a seed head.

If you don’t cut this scape off the plant will put all its effort and energy into it, as it should. This is how it would reproduce in the wild. But we want the plant to put all of its energy into the bulb, so that the bulb grows as big as possible. So we cut the scapes off.

If you are growing a small patch of garlic and you’ve got a few scapes to cut, this is no big deal. When you’ve got 4,000 scapes and the two gardeners are both 50 years old (with 50-year-old backs!), it’s more of an issue. The garlic plants are just high enough that we have to bend over at an awkward angle to cut them off. We could get down on our knees but that would mean walking about the garden on our knees. With my fabulous new pants with the kneepads sewn right in (see a previous blog) this is a little easier, but it still gets pretty painful!

So Michelle and I just generally suck it up and stoop over and lop them off. We save some because they are quite tasty. They have a real strong garlicky taste so we put them in eggs, and pasta, and this year Michelle made a garlic scape pesto out of them that we put on everything including pizza!  The garlic scape pesto recipe is here in case you are interested;

http://blog.washingtonpost.com/mighty-appetite/2006/06/my_friend_the_garlic_scape_1.html

Even though bending over to lop off scapes can be a bit hard on your back, it makes me think of that old saying… a bad day in the vegetable garden is better than a great day at the office. We work away in the garden accompanied by the sounds of lots of songbirds and sometimes we can even hear the loons on 6th Depot Lake.

Once the scape cutting is done we’ve got about a 4 weeks reprieve until it’s time to dig up the heads and hang them up to dry. I’ve been doing my stretching in preparation for that!

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