A Garlic Prelude


One of my favorite crops in my market garden is garlic. The cloves are planted in the fall and  start putting down roots before lying dormant over the winter. In the spring, they take off growing again and are flourishing in this year’s wet weather. In June, the plants are two feet plus in height and start sending up their flower scape, often making an elegant full curl. Garlic growers remove the scape in order to send more energy to producing a larger size bulb. The scapes can add a tasty garlicky addition to cooking while we wait for the bulbs to mature. In Ohio, we will start pulling garlic bulbs for harvest in July when about half the leaves are brown.

To prepare scapes, discard the flowering end as it can be a bit stringy, and then the tender portion can be chopped and used like an onion scallion in recipes and it offers a delightful mild garlic flavor. They are excellent in soups, stir-fries, pesto and anywhere you might use onions or garlic.

Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

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Garlic Scape Pesto

Enjoy with pasta or as a dip or spread.

  • Total Time: 15 minutes


Units Scale
  • 1/2 cup chopped garlic scapes
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 T. lemon juice


  1. Puree scapes and olive oil in blender until smooth.
  2. Stir in Parmesan and lemon juice plus salt to taste.
  3. Enjoy with pasta or as a dip or spread.
  • Author: Mary Jane Butters
  • Prep Time: 15 min

Keywords: garlic scape pesto, garlic, pesto

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Scapes and Snap Pea Stir Fry

  • Total Time: 10 minutes


Units Scale
  • 1 lb. snap or snow peas
  • 1T. olive oil
  • 56 garlic scapes, minced
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • salt & pepper to taste


  1. Heat oil in skillet on medium heat.
  2. Stir in scapes and cook 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add peas and cook 3-4 minutes till crisp tender.
  4. Remove from heat and sprinkle on lemon juice, salt and pepper.
  5. Serve immediately.
  • Author: Karen Geiser
  • Prep Time: 5 min
  • Cook Time: 5 min

Keywords: scapes and snap pea stir fry, garlic, snap pea, stir fry

 The scapes also freeze well and can be put whole or chopped into plastic freezer containers for a quick pungent addition to winter meals. I also plan to experiment with lacto-fermenting a batch of scapes this season. Other uses for the scapes include a quirky addition to flower bouquets, and our children think they make grand frisbees or bracelets.

For a by-product that is frequently just discarded in the compost pile, there are many versatile options that can transform scapes into a valuable harvest. Recently, I worked with five area Amish garlic growers to gather almost 1,000 bundles of a dozen scapes each for a large CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) in Cleveland. Our mini-van was completely packed full of boxes of the curly scapes. Our family was excited to be a part of keeping nearly $1,000 in the local economy, benefiting both the farmers and the eaters. Lehman’s played a part in making these connections possible, as they were one of the sponsors for a Kidron farming event in March that promoted produce growing and marketing among area growers. The farmers are saying a big thank you!

You should be able to find scapes at the farmers market this time of year. If you want to try growing some of your own, look for locally grown seed garlic available in Lehman’s retail store starting late August.

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Lisa Ramunni Cool
Lisa Ramunni Cool
12 years ago

i planted garlic in oct. and love it! almost ready to harvest next month…this is my first time and i didnt know bout scapes! lol i had to google the image so i was sure i knew what you were refering too…tyvm for sharing!

Holly Davidson
12 years ago

Thanks for sharing…Added it to my canning groups post. My first year at garlic planting so I found this helpful.

Kiri Hyatt
12 years ago

A city friend was given a bag of garlic bulbs by someone who plants them to keep critters away from eating his plants. I have never grown garlic and have no idea how to do it. This info was therefore timely.

Joy Mason
Joy Mason
12 years ago

this is a good companion plant for roses it helps keep away japanese beetles

Clara Jewel
Clara Jewel
12 years ago

Scapes? Escapes me. Guess I will have to Google too.

8 years ago

[…] scapes must be cut if you want your garlic bulbs to grow large but never fear. They are not wasted. Scapes can be pickled, stir fried, sautéed or eaten slivered in spring salads. The taste is a bit more mild than garlic and absolutely delicious. Shortly after the scapes are […]

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