The Garden at 485 Elm
People growing together:
a collaborative community garden in Montpelier, Vermont

Garden task: Harvest and eat garlic scapes

This is the time of the season when we watch the garlic crop for scapes. Scapes are the flowers each growing garlic bulb sends up. Harvesting them keeps the sun, water, and soil nutrients feeding the bulb (our target crop) instead of the beautiful flower that would emerge if we let the scapes grow. It’s also a pest-management technique; more on this below.

Even though everything is green, it’s easy to spot distinctively curvy scapes among the garlic leaves. Nonetheless, gardeners can walk the garlic rows as many times as they like and will always find more.
How do you harvest garlic scapes? Gently hold the plant just below the scape with one hand. With the other hand, snap or snip off the scape as close as you can to where it attaches to the plant without damaging the leaves or stalk.

This video is from 2014 or 2015. Learn scape harvesting from our Garden Coordinator Emerita during the Garden at 485 Elm’s first or second season.

Garlic scapes are delicious sliced up raw into salads, sautéed or raw in soups, and stir fries, and blended raw into pesto.
Here’s a stir-fry of garlic scapes, broccoli raab, and more.

To preserve, raw scapes freeze perfectly. Just snip the scapes into a size you’ll use, put them in a freezer bag or container, squeeze out the air, and then grab a handful whenever you want a mild yet flavorful hit of garlic. People whose innards are sensitive to garlic sometimes tolerate scapes just fine.

We 💚 garlic scapes.

Garden Task: Pest Management

Harvesting garlic scapes prevents leek moths from burrowing down the scape and stem into the garlic bulb.

Leek moths are a persistent predator of garden alliums. Harvesting the garlic scapes prevents leek moths from burrowing into the scape, down the stem, and into the garlic bulb that is our target crop. Even scapes with leek moth damage are food—just compost the damaged part in a hot composting system that reaches pathogen-kill temperatures or put them into the trash.

Here’s how to do some leek moth management.