Help me please---my garlic has bulbs on top, and what are scape??

asaylor(z7)June 7, 2006


THis is my first year growing garlic. I planted several varieties of both hard and softneck in the Fall. Now there are bulby things at the tops, which I presume will become flowers. When I pulled up a bulb it was definitely not full-size. What do I do? WHen do I harvest them, since they have the bulby things? There is still plenty of green leaves.

Also, I keep reading a lot about scapes, but I can't find a thread that defines what they are!

Thanks in advance for any information you can give me!!


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gardenlad(6b KY)

AJ, the bulby things you see are part of the scapes.

A scape is a growth that would be a flower stalk on a flowering plant. It's a round, solid stem (unlike the flat leaves) that comes up the center of the plant. Near the top is a bulbous pocket called a spathe. Within the spath will form bulbils; little round seed-like mini-bulbs that are clones of the parent.

The scapes start out growing straight, then curl (how many times, and to what degree depends on the variety) and then straighten out again.

Most people trim the scapes for two reasons. First, they're a culinary treat in their own right. And second, you will get marginally larger bulbs, because all the plant's energy goes into bulb growth instead of scape growth. Ideal time to harvest them is when they start to curl, but before they straighten out.

Bulb maturation comes rought a month after scapes appear. You can tell by watching the leaves. They'll start to change color and dry out, from the bottom upwards. When 1/2 to 2/3 of the leaves have done so it's time to lift the garlic and cure it.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2006 at 9:52PM
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Thank you so much, GardenLad!! You really helped me identify the scapes, I am going to cut some off to try.

Another question:
I just pulled up my Early Red Italian bulbs, and on one of them there was like a second set of tiny cloves directly above the main clove (underground). What are these called, why do they form, and what should I do with them?

THank you!!

    Bookmark   June 9, 2006 at 3:27AM
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gardenlad(6b KY)

AJ, were the second set above ground? If so, that is normal on some varieties. Nobody seems to know why some varieties set these bulblets and some don't.

If they were also underground, along with the main bulb, I have no idea what they are.

Incidientally, the individual pieces are cloves. The collection of cloves contained by the wrappers is called either a bulb or a head.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2006 at 8:31PM
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They were definitely below ground, with a small spacing between the bulb and this sac of little cloves.
By the way, can bulbils be eaten?

    Bookmark   June 11, 2006 at 6:56PM
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