Edibles

Garlic scapes, the season is here!

It’s garlic scape season here in joene’s garden … one of the best perks of growing garlic.

Scapes are the flowering shoots of garlic bulbs. They wind and curl around tall, straight garlic leaves and will go to flower and eventually produce garlic seed, so if your goal is to harvest garlic bulbs, cut the scapes off when they begin to curl.

Garlic scape bouquet by Ralph Chappell Photography

Garlic scape bouquet by Ralph Chappell Photography

Use the scapes as an interesting indoor bouquet, which my favorite photographer then used for a photo shoot (above). As long as provided with fresh water daily, you can use these over a week or two. Their clean, fresh, gentle flavor adds a mild garlic taste to pesto, stir-fry, salsa or in any dish you would normally add garlic. Thin garlic scape slices with lemon juice add a wonderful flavor to baked fish. I like to blend the tender tips of scapes with a little olive oil until the consistency of a thick milk shake, then pour the mix into ice cube trays, freeze, and package as cubes to add to winter soups, stews, chili, and tomato sauce.

As noted, the scapes keep well as a bouquet for about a week when provided fresh water daily. To hold them longer, place scapes in a container of water in the refrigerator. They will hold there for up to a month when provided with fresh water every couple of days.

Those who preserve by home canning may try pickled garlic scapes. I have not tried this yet, but it’s on my lengthy to-do.

The scapes in my garden grow from fall-planted garlic, known as winter garlic, as the bulbs over-winter in the ground, begin to grow in early spring for mid-summer harvesting and curing. This type of garlic keeps well through winter. Spring planted garlic acts similarly but does not keep as well.

If you don’t grow garlic in your own garden, watch for garlic scapes at a local farmers’ market.

Share how you use garlic scapes … I’m always looking for new ways to use and preserve them.

 

 

Welcome Spring?

The calendar shows today as the first full day of Spring 2015 but, outside, Old Man Winter is doing its best to cover all evidence of Spring. Still, even with another three inches of fresh snow covering the ground, gardeners welcome spring.

As the season officially turned to Spring last evening at 6:45 pm, snow was falling. It doesn’t look very spring-like outside this morning.

The first full day of Spring in south-central Connecticut

The first full day of Spring in south-central Connecticut

But yesterday, during an early morning walk I found hints of Spring.

Tete-a tete narcissi barely peeking out of the ground

Tete-a tete narcissi barely peeking out of the ground

The few narcissi bulbs not still buried deep under snow cover were peeking out of the ground. I call this hope and, after looking back at last year’s progress, these sprouts are only slightly smaller than on the first day of Spring last year.

Yep … hope.

More hope shows inside, under lights, where basil seedlings have sprouted.

basil seedlings

basil seedlings

They have a way to go before they are large enough to flavor meals, but these tiny plants bring hope.

For this gardener, one of the best ways to maintain hope while waiting for spring temperatures to actually arrive is to plant seeds. If you need a boost to start some of your own seeds, read my seed starting process.

Grow a seed … believe in the future.

And … welcome Spring even when the outdoor landscape is draped in white.

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Fig tree seeking spring

Late afternoon sunshine streams through the front windows during winter and into early spring, making the front windows the best spot for the fig tree seeking spring.

My five-foot tall fig refused to remain dormant in the cool basement. Lengthening daylight spurred its leaves to open, leaving me no option but to provide it as much sunlight as possible.

Opening the front door and moving the rapidly leafing-out Chicago Hardy Fig to soak in sun through the glass storm door highlighted the interesting fig leaf structure. So … what better to do than grab my camera.

Though snow still covers the ground and winter is being stubborn about releasing its grip on temperatures, the fig has decided it’s done with dormancy.

Fig tree soaking up winter sun

Fig tree soaking up winter sun

Once outdoor spring gardening becomes possible I’ll have little time to relish the beauty of fig leaves.

fig leaves against a snow-covered background.

fig leaves against a snow-covered background.

Late afternoon sunlight helps highlight their graceful veining and harsh texture …

The veining and structure of fig leaves against a dark background.

The veining and structure of fig leaves against a dark background.

… and graceful beauty.

Fig leaves in late afternoon sunlight.

Fig leaves in late afternoon sunlight.

 

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