Mastering the Art of Growing and Harvesting Garlic Scapes: A Comprehensive Guide


Garlic scapes can be found in many varieties of garlic, including both hardneck and softneck types. Softneck garlic is much more common and easy to grow, while hardneck garlic produces larger cloves with a stronger flavor. Gardeners often care for garlic scapes because they are not only delicious, but also provide a beautiful addition to any garden. Scapes are the stalk that appears in June just as the flowers begin to curl. They usually come from softneck varieties of garlic, as hardnecks usually do not produce scapes themselves.

To begin growing garlic scapes, plant garlic cloves in the ground or in pots, using a well-drained soil and full sunlight. Softnecks should be planted about 2 inches deep, while hardnecks should be planted about 3 inches deep. Apply a balanced fertilizer to the soil to help the garlic grow. As the scapes begin to grow, it is important to remove any flowers that appear. This will help increase the flavor of the scapes by directing the plant’s energy towards the stalk.

Harvesting garlic scapes is easy and can be done when the stalk is young and tender. Simply cut the scape when it is about 6-8 inches long, using a clean gardening brush to remove any dirt or debris. Having bunches of scapes in half makes it easier to store them and use them in recipes. Once harvested, the scapes should be stored in a cool, dry place. They can be stored for several weeks, depending on the temperature and humidity in your storage area.

To use garlic scapes in cooking, remove the tough outer skin and use the tender inner stalk. Scapes can be used in a variety of dishes such as soups, stir-fries, and pesto. They add a mild garlic flavor and a unique twist to any recipe. When curing the garlic scapes, it is a good idea to hang them upside down in a cool, dark space. This will help them dry out and become more flavorful. Once cured, the scapes can be used just like regular garlic cloves.

How to Grow and Care for Hardneck Garlic

Planting and growing hardneck garlic is a straightforward process that requires some basic care. Here are some frequently asked questions and tips to help you successfully grow your own hardneck garlic:

  • Moisture: Garlic needs well-drained soil, so make sure to water it adequately without oversaturating the soil.
  • Spacing: Plant the garlic cloves about 4-6 inches apart, with the pointed ends facing up. This will allow each garlic bulb to have enough space to grow.
  • Planting Time: Hardneck garlic is typically planted in the fall, before the ground freezes. This allows the garlic to establish roots over the winter.
  • Soil Content: Hardneck garlic prefers rich, organic soil. You can amend the soil with compost or well-rotted manure to improve its fertility.
  • Growing Conditions: Garlic grows best in full sun, so select a sunny spot in your garden to plant your garlic bulbs.
  • Harvesting Time: Hardneck garlic typically matures in late spring or early summer, around June. The leaves will start to die down, indicating that the garlic is ready to be harvested.

To harvest hardneck garlic, gently dig the bulbs out of the ground using a garden fork. Be careful not to bruise or damage the garlic bulbs during the harvesting process. Brush off any dirt or debris from the bulbs and let them cure in a dark, dry, and well-ventilated area for a few weeks.

Hardneck garlic has a more intense and complex flavor compared to softneck garlic. It produces scapes, which are long, curly stalks that emerge from the center of the plant. Garlic scapes can be cut off to allow the plant to focus its energy on bulb development. These scapes can be used in a variety of recipes and are a seasonal favorite in many kitchens.

When it comes to storage, hardneck garlic doesn’t store as well as softneck garlic varieties. It tends to become soft and lose flavor more quickly. Nevertheless, hardneck garlic can still be stored for several months if handled and stored properly.

If you’re looking to plant hardneck garlic, we recommend reaching out to local farmers or garden centers for varieties that are suitable for your region. They can provide valuable insight and recommend the best types of hardneck garlic for you to grow.

Overall, growing and caring for hardneck garlic is a simple process that can be rewarding. Start with a healthy bulb, provide the right growing conditions, and watch them become flavorful and aromatic heads of garlic within a few months.

Watch Now Simple Pasta Recipe Using Garlic Scapes

If you’ve planted softneck garlic in your garden, chances are you’ve come across garlic scapes. These curly, green shoots are some of the most prized parts of the garlic plant and can be harvested and used in a variety of delicious recipes.

One such recipe is a simple pasta dish that incorporates the unique flavor of garlic scapes. Here’s how to make it:


  • 1 bunch of garlic scapes
  • 1 pound of pasta
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)


  1. Start by boiling a pot of water for the pasta. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions until it is al dente.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, wash the garlic scapes and chop them into small pieces. Discard any tough or woody parts.
  3. In a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped garlic scapes and sauté until they are tender, about 5 minutes.
  4. Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and add it to the pan with the garlic scapes. Toss everything together until the pasta is evenly coated with the sauce.
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If desired, sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese on top.
  6. Serve the pasta hot and enjoy!

This recipe is a great way to showcase the unique flavor of garlic scapes. The garlic scapes add a mild, garlicky taste to the dish without overpowering it. Their slightly crunchy texture also adds a nice contrast to the pasta.

Now that you know how to harvest and use garlic scapes in your kitchen, you can experiment with different recipes and find your favorite way to enjoy them. Whether you’re using them in salads, stir-fries, or pasta dishes, garlic scapes are a versatile and flavorful ingredient that can elevate any dish.

How to Plant Hardneck Garlic

Planting hardneck garlic is a great way to enjoy the fresh flavors of this versatile herb. The hardneck varieties, such as Colleen, Graham, and Music, are known for their rich and complex flavor profiles. If you’re a garlic lover, then planting hardneck garlic is a must! Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to plant hardneck garlic in your garden.

Selecting Bulbs: Start by selecting high-quality bulbs for planting. Look for firm bulbs with well-formed cloves. Avoid bulbs that are overripe or have any signs of diseases. You can also select bulbs for planting from your own garlic harvest.

Preparing the Soil: Garlic prefers loose, well-draining soil with a pH level between 6 and 7.5. Amend the soil with organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, to improve its structure and fertility. Garlic also benefits from full sun exposure, so choose a sunny spot in your garden.

Planting Time: Garlic is usually planted in the fall, around 4-6 weeks before the first frost. This allows the plants to establish roots before the cold winter months. In warmer regions with mild winters, garlic can be planted in early spring.

Planting Method: Break the bulb into individual cloves, being careful to keep the wrapper intact. Plant the cloves pointed end up, about 2 inches deep and 6-8 inches apart. Leave about 12 inches between rows. Cover the cloves with soil and press it down gently.

Mulching and Watering: After planting, mulch the soil with a layer of organic material, such as straw or dried leaves. This helps to conserve moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature. Water the newly planted cloves thoroughly, but avoid overwatering, as garlic doesn’t like soggy soil.

Care and Maintenance: Garlic plants require regular watering, especially during dry spells. Watch out for pests and diseases, such as aphids, white rot, or rust. If any problems arise, take appropriate measures to control them. Remove any weeds that compete with the garlic plants for nutrients and water.

Harvesting: Garlic cloves usually take 9-10 months to mature. Harvest the garlic scapes when they start to curl and before the flower buds open. This helps redirect the plant’s energy towards bulbing. Harvest the bulbs when the lower leaves turn yellow and dry. Gently dig down with a fork, being careful not to damage the bulbs. Leave the bulbs to dry and cure in a well-ventilated and shady area for a few weeks.

Storing and Using: Once the bulbs are cured, remove any loose dirt and trim the roots. Store the garlic bulbs in a cool and dark place, like a pantry or cellar. They can last up to several months if stored properly. Use the fresh garlic in your favorite recipes or share it with friends and family.

Hardneck garlic is a rewarding crop to grow in your garden. With the right care and conditions, you’ll be able to enjoy a bountiful harvest of flavorful cloves. So, don’t wait! Start planting hardneck garlic and watch your garden thrive.

When to Plant

Planting garlic is best done in the fall, usually around eight weeks before the ground freezes in your region. This allows the garlic bulbs to develop strong roots and establish themselves before winter. The exact timing will depend on your specific location and climate zone, so be sure to research the best planting time for your area.

When selecting garlic bulbs for planting, look for ones that are firm and pliable, with no signs of mold or damage. Avoid bulbs that have started to sprout, as they may not produce as well. If you’re not sure what types of garlic to plant, consider trying a few different varieties to see which ones perform best in your garden.

To plant garlic, start by breaking the cloves apart from the bulb, leaving the papery wrapper intact. Plant each clove about two inches deep, with the pointed end facing up. Space the cloves about six inches apart in rows that are 12 inches apart.

After planting, cover the cloves with soil and water well. Garlic is a hardy plant and typically doesn’t require much maintenance during the winter months. Just make sure to keep the soil evenly moist and provide some protection from harsh winter conditions if necessary.

In the spring, you’ll start to see green shoots emerging from the ground. These are the garlic scapes, which will eventually develop into the flavorful garlic stalks. As the scapes grow, you can harvest them and use them in a variety of recipes or even preserve them for later use.

When it comes time to harvest the garlic bulbs, look for the telltale signs that they’re ready. The leaves will start to yellow and dry out, and the stalk will begin to curl. Lift the bulbs gently from the ground with a garden fork or trowel, being careful not to damage them.

Once harvested, you’ll want to clean the bulbs and allow them to dry in a dark, well-ventilated area. This process, known as curing, will help the bulbs develop a protective wrapper and increase their storage life.

Once the garlic bulbs are fully cured, you can trim the stalks to about an inch above the bulb for easier storage. Some garlic growers also choose to braid the stalks together, creating a beautiful and practical way to store their garlic.

If you’re interested in growing garlic from seeds, known as bulbils, you can allow some of the garlic scapes to fully mature and form seeds. These can be planted in the fall like garlic cloves, but keep in mind that they may take longer to produce bulbs.

Ultimately, knowing when to plant garlic is important for a successful harvest. By following these tips and considering your specific growing conditions, you can ensure that you’re planting garlic at the optimal time for your region and enjoying a bountiful crop of flavorful bulbs.

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Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.