Garden Experiment 2007

To Break Scape or Not to Break Scape?

That is the question no more.

When I first started growing garlic, I’d read that breaking the scapes (the flower stalks) off the garlic plants soon after they appeared would allow the bulbs to grow bigger (and so I’d always broken the scapes). Made sense, logically speaking; the energy that would be used to grow the scapes would then be forced down into the bulb. I wanted to test this logic for myself to see just how big a difference there’d be.

Garden Experiment 2007:

Break scapes off one bed of garlic and leave scapes on another bed. Evaluate size and weight differential.

The garlic on the left is from the bed with scapes left on. The garlic on the right is from the bed with scapes broken off.

garlic bulbs

Rather conclusive, wouldn’t you say?

No loss though. The scape bulblets (having a milder garlic taste) can be used just like the garlic cloves.

15 thoughts on “Garden Experiment 2007”

  1. Linda, you grow garlic by ordering bulbs from a grower, breaking the bulbs apart into cloves, and planting the cloves. I plant in Oct. and harvest in July.

    Ranjit, I actually did take the weight and size measurements but didn’t include it in the post because I didn’t want everyone here to know just how truly dorky I really am. :) But now that you’ve reminded me, I should submit this as an article.

    Neil, I love fiddle heads! And you’re so right, most people have no idea how garlic is grown, nevermind what scapes are. I always leave some on every year because of how swanlike they are. There’s just something about them…I think they’re incredibly beautiful.

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  2. I’m glad your experiment proved the point! My wife and I actually look forward to “garlic scape season” every year, so we can enjoy the tender green shoots in our omelettes, stir-frys, and quiches.

    The have a very fiddlehead-like quality, not in their taste (of course), but more for the responses that they evoke in our less agriculturally-minded guests (i.e. “What on earth is this?” followed by “mmm…delicious”.

    Cheers from Maine.

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  3. Experiments!!! I love it. This is so clear! The only thing you need to do to get in in a journal is weigh the garlic and put up a graph with error bars and %age differences…

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  4. Martina, the garlic blossoms are actually a cluster of hard little bulblets encased in a papery covering. You’d use the bulblets the same way you would a garlic clove.

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  5. Can you eat the garlic blossoms like you can chive flowers? Homegrown garlic is definitely tastier than storebought. The test is waiting and waiting for harvesting!

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  6. Guilty Secret, homegrown is much more flavorful than store garlic, though not necessarily stronger. Depends on what type you grow. My garlic has a buttery sweet, nutty flavor, without a hint of heat or bitterness.

    Yes, Meredith, the smaller ones are great used raw. Friends always ask what’s that great taste, and they never guess garlic. I’ll also use the smaller garlic to mince and store for later use after the fresh bulbs are gone.

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  7. Interesting experiment. I wonder if the smaller ones might be good chopped raw in a salad dressing, as they are milder?

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  8. Mmm mmm I have been meaning to grow some of my own garlic for a while now… is it true that it is much more potent than that you get in supermarkets?

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