Garlic Scapes and other gardening stuff

One of the wonderful things that can be harvested this time of year are garlic scapes.  The idea of eating garlic scapes is perhaps new to many gardeners, but they are becoming popular and can even be found for sale at many farmer’s markets.  For those of you who are new to them, garlic scapes are those curly tops that shoot up from the center of hard necked varieties of garlic plants.  They are quite slender with a small round section which is where little bulblets form – that part is not good eating.   The scapes can be broken off from the main plant – some people say this encourages a bigger bulb of garlic but I am not sure.  At any rate, it does not harm the bulb.

There are several different ways to use garlic scapes:

  • they can be lightly steamed and served with butter
  • they can be coated lightly with oil and roasted in the oven
  • they can be made into a pesto – take either fresh or roasted garlic scapes and puree them with olive oil and ground almonds.  Serve with pasta and parmesan cheese – fantastic!
  • garlic scapes can be frozen, simply chop into 1-2 inch sections and place in a freezer bag – no preparation necessary.  They can be defrosted and used in soups or stews throughout the winter
  • Pickled Garlic Scapes – parboil the scapes for about 2 minutes. Drain and place in sterilized Mason jars.   Add some fresh dill and a few hot pepper flakes to the jars.  Make a pickle with 1 cup white vinegar, 3 cups water and 1 tbsp pickling salt (or multiple thereof, depending on how big a batch you are making).  Bring to a boil and pour over the scapes.  Add lids, rings and process as desired.

A few other things to think about at this time of year are

  • getting some mulch down in your garden.  I like to use straw to mulch around most of my plants, the straw helps to keep the moisture in the soil and also works to keep the weeds down.  It looks like we are going to have another very wet summer here in Southern Ontario so moisture conservation is probably not a big issue, but the straw does help to prevent the soil from splashing up onto your plants – especially important for tomatoes which can get a fungicidal blight from the soil.
  • I like to do a thorough weeding at this time of year, the soil is still damp and the weeds are easy to pull.  It is also the time of year when many weeds begin to go to seed – this is something you really want to avoid!
  • do some pruning on your tomato plants.  If you are growing heirloom varieties they are usually what are called indeterminate – meaning they will grow very big and sprawl with many stems coming out from the base of the plant.  Really you do not want so many stems – in fact many people train their tomatoes up a string and prune the plants so there is only one main stem.  At the very least, try to keep the plant to less than five stems – this opens up space so that light can get to the fruit and it can ripen.  The larger your plant, the more fruit you will have but they will be smaller.  A pruned plant will give a very nice harvest of larger sized tomatoes.  It is also much more likely that the stake you use will be able to support the plant!

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