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To Scape or Not To Scape – Free Garlic Giveaway!

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Guess What?

We have been invited to a very cool Blog Party and there is free garlic “seed” and organic goodies to be had by all!

The giveaway is closed, but it was so nice to read all your ideas and tips in the comments. Congrats to our winner Emily Vigue!

Although the contest is over, you can still read below for information on growing garlic as an ornamental AND an edible!

German Red Garlic - Hardneck

I will give you all the details below, but basically our friends over at Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply are “hosting” a virtual party where several of us garden bloggers share garlic info. And you have the opportunity to win prizes at every stop along the way. Fun!

I figured some of my co-horts would be talking about the basics of growing and using garlic in their posts, so I decided to tell you how…

I Grow Garlic Differently Than Most People

Well not outrageously different – but a little differently. Let me explain.

I grow my garlic on an urban homestead in the heart of Los Angeles (1/10th of an acre) which means my garden space is very limited. Nothing unusual about that. But due to my space limitations, I do not plant my garlic in rows.

Instead, I plant garlic in small drifts among my other edibles. I also plant my edibles like landscape plants (taking into consideration form and color) so that my vegetable bed looks more like an ornamental bed. And, I sometimes plant garlic as a flower (not an edible bulb).

In other words…

I sometimes value my garlic more for it’s ornamental properties than for its flavor. {Gasp!} And also plant it in the non-edible areas of my garden as a cut flower.

Okay, I know what you are thinking!

“Wow, Theresa. That is so shallow! Beauty is only skin deep. You should value garlic for what is on the inside…yadda, yadda, yadda.”

All true. Don’t get me wrong! I do love to EAT garlic.

But it is also one of the easiest ways to add interest to a small space and it is possible to have the best of both worlds.


Types of Garlic:

There are really two types of garlic and one garlic-wanna-be.

Softneck: This garlic has a softer stem and is the one used for braiding. The advantage of this type of garlic is that it stores well. It also has a mild flavor. It does not form a scape (the flower stalk).

Hardneck: This type of garlic is similar to wild garlic and has a stronger, more complex flavor. Many cooks prefer this type of garlic when in season. They do not last as long and must be eaten within a few months of harvest. It forms a very pretty and (tasty) scape and lovely flower.

Elephant Garlic: Is the garlic-wanna-be. I say this because technically it is not a garlic, but a leek. However, it is used by many as a mild garlic in cooking. Some die-hard garlic lovers scoff at elephant garlic in the kitchen. Me?  I grow it for the flower, which is huge!

 Scapes and Garlic Blossoms

I plant lots of hardneck and elephant garlic every fall. (For tips on how to do this, go HERE.)  But here is the deal…

When the garlic starts to form a scape (the stem with a flower head), you are supposed to clip it off. Why? Because studies have shown that removing the scape will give you 17-48% larger bulbs. Clipping them forces the bulb to put all of it’s energy into the bulb rather than the flower. If you grow garlic for the bulb (and most people do) then you need to clip the scapes.

And the scapes are delicious!  You can stir fry or steam them and they taste like mild garlic. You can even pickle them! If you want to try them first, look for them in the springtime at farmer’s markets.

But…If you leave a few scapes in each small drift of garlic, they will go to flower and the results are…well, dramatic!

The scapes start out curled and then straighten up a bit as the flower opens up.

Letting a few garlics go to flower will still allow you to have a tasty garlic bulb to harvest in the summer. (It is just significantly smaller.) I think it is a worthy trade off! When I let a few of my garlics flower, my garden looks spectacular and the bees and hummingbirds love it. I cut the scapes on the rest so I still have enough larger bulbs for the kitchen.

The Giveaway:

Peaceful Valley has offered to send one lucky reader of my blog the following items:

  • 1 pound of organic seed garlic – The variety from this blog will be German Red Garlic (as shown in the top photo of this post)
  • 1 quart of liquid kelp (for soaking the cloves overnight before planting)
  • 10 gallon smart pot (to plant some in a container)
  • 1 garlic twist (clever kitchen gadget that minces the cloves)

 To Enter:

Leave a comment below saying ONE of the following:

  • A handy hint for using garlic or getting rid of garlic smell
  • What you love about garlic (as a food or an ornamental)
  • Why you would like to win some garlic

You have until Midnight (PT) Wednesday October 17th to win. Please only leave ONE comment here. Then visit one of the other blogs listed below to leave comments and enter to win different garlic varieties. (Sorry but you must live within the United States to win.)

Here are the other bloggers:

Chiot’s Run has the Garlic Combo Pack (4 varieties of garlic, plus French Red shallots)

North Coast Gardening has organic Russian Red hardneck garlic

Western Gardeners has organic Purple Italian hardneck garlic

Dirt Du Jour has organic French Red shallots

Gardenerd has organic California Early White softneck garlic

A Suburban Farmer has organic Purple Glazer hardneck garlic

Peaceful Valley/ has Bogatyr hardneck garlic

I will announce the winner here on October 18th. You can check the other blogs for their winners.

Good Luck!


Disclaimer: Peaceful Valley asked me to participate in the blog party and provide one of my readers with the giveaway items with no obligation to talk about them as a company. The comments about the beauty of garlic and all other opinions are my own.


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About the Author:

Theresa Loe is the founder of Living Homegrown® and the Canning Academy®. For 9 years, Theresa was the Co-Executive Producer & Canning Expert on the national PBS gardening series, Growing A Greener World®. Theresa homesteads on just 1/10th of an acre in Los Angeles with her husband, two sons and several disorderly but totally adorable chickens. Learn more about Living Homegrown here and about the Canning Academy here.