Garlic Scapes. If You’re Growing Garlic Here’s What You Need To Do Right Now.

If you planted your garlic when I told you to last fall, chances are it’s now growing squiggles from the top of it.  Those are garlic scapes and here’s what you need to do with them.


Sorry. Wrong photo.  I mean, those are indeed garlic scapes, but you can’t make a headdress out of them until you can identify and cut them.

THIS is what your garlic scapes probably look like in June.



What Are Garlic Scapes

There are 2 types of garlic: hard neck and soft neck. 

ONLY hard neck garlic grows scapes. Hard neck garlic is grown in cooler climates. If you own a snowshovel, you’re probably growing hard neck garlic and will have scapes that need to be dealt with.

Scapes are the squiggly stems that grow from the centre of the stalk, sprouting in June.

Why Do You Cut Garlic Scapes?

You’re going to want to chop those scapes off because they’re actually the garlic flowers (scientifically speaking they aren’t actually the flowers because they only partly form but that’s all jargon we don’t care about right now.)

The scapes eventually turn into big, puffy, garlic scented flowers, which may seem like a fun thing, but if you let your scapes go to flower then it’ll drain the plant’s energy from forming proper sized heads of garlic. So, you need to trim your scapes.


You can allow some of your scapes to grow and harvest the seeds that eventually emerge after the flowers. These are called bulbils and they can be planted just like you plant a garlic clove but it takes a couple of years before they’ll actually form full heads of garlic.

When to Cut Scapes

The absolute perfect time to cut the scapes off is once they’ve curled into one complete circle like this. But … it’s pretty much whenever you notice them.  

If they’ve done two curls, don’t worry about it, just cut them off and grin to yourself for remembering to do it at all.

If you plan on cooking with the garlic scapes, one curl is better as well because the older the scapes are the tougher and more fibrous they get.


They grow fast those scapes. One morning you have a regular stalk of garlic and the next you’ll have a patch of squiggles.  That’s when it’s time to grab a pair of scissors.

How to Cut Scapes

Just use a pair of regular scissors to cut the scape off where it meets the first leaf it comes to. 

Make your cut on an angle like you would cutting any plant outside, because it allows rain to slip off instead of collect on top. Although, honestly, I don’t think it really matters all that much.

The entire scape is edible, and like I mentioned earlier if they’re young with just one loop they’re very tender. Anything bigger than that and they start to get fibrous, plus the flowers have started forming inside the tip.

Leek Moth in Garlic Scapes

Leek moth lay eggs on garlic scapes, onions, leeks and shallots. Those eggs hatch and then the larvae burrow into the plant and eat their way through it from the top down.

Look for leek moth larvae damage on the leaves at this time of year.

If you have damage like this, spray your garlic with Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis)  a soil bourn natural bacteria that disturbs the guts of caterpillars and larvae and stops them from eating. 

You can read more about leek moth and controlling them in this post. 

You can see where leek moth larvae have burrowed into this scape at the tip.

If you cut the tip crosswise, you can see the hole goes down into the scape. So if you eat this scape, you’ll probably be eating larvae as well without any of the added benefits of winning Survivor.

Remove any leaves or scapes with leek moth damage and throw them in the garbage – not the compost pile.  You should also pull up infected plants to help prevent more emergence and damage.

What to do with garlic scapes?

You can throw the scapes into the compost pile, make a necklace out of them, braid them into a dog leash, attach them to a headband for a truly fashionable look good for driver’s license photos, school pictures or scape porn …

or … if you want to be a little more pedestrian you can cook with them.  If you’re boring and have no intention of making it big in garlic scape porn.

Garlic Scape Pesto is the way you want to go for cooking.  I make a double batch every summer with my garlic scapes and freeze it to use throughout the winter.  Plus I eat some immediately of course.  It’s a light, bright, tasting pesto with a mild garlic taste.

So if you grow it, go outside and check for scapes now.  Before the thought eSCAPES you.

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Garlic Scapes. If You\'re Growing Garlic Here\'s What You Need To Do Right Now.


  1. Susan says:

    I didn’t plant garlic, run outSide cause I would get eaten by bugs or make my picture appear! Wow! What a loser!

  2. Pats says:

    Ok, that headband is not only adorable, it will repel vampires! Double good!

  3. Karen, eat them. No word of a lie, they are amazing. I do them up in a whiz of eevo and sea salt. That’s it….in the cast iron pan even better. Let them get golden and oh. my. name. Yum.
    I like them crispy but not burnt, or they are bitter. You can use them in mashed potatoes, hello! Or instead of beans. Yep, they have a garlic taste and are strong. But, sister in gardening and all things antique….try them. And maybe the girls might like them too…who knows. But eat them. Go to that compost pile, ok, maybe not, but go to that lovely arrangement and steal one out and try it. If you don’t like them, I’ll eat my scape. :)

  4. White says:

    Just a reminder that only hard-neck garlic varieties develop scapes, soft-neck varieties do not. Typically, garlic “braids” are fashioned from soft-neck garlic.

    This is all too obvious for long-time garlic growers, but bears noting for novice growers.

  5. Barbie says:

    I did plant my garlic last fall as always….however I forgot to look for scapes…don’t think I’ve seen any though….perhaps my scapes are behind like the rest of things in my life. I have never cut my scapes before and my garlic is usually always nice a big…so I am looking forward to seeing how much better and bigger my garlic will be this year when I do that. :)

  6. Karen says:

    Thanks for the heads-up! Mine have been doing that for a couple of days and I didn’t know you should cut them off. I just love the way they look in the garden. So I’ll put them in a vase…

  7. Adele says:

    I feel sorry that I “wasted” some scapes that my daughter gave me from her farmer’s box by putting them in my pasta sauce, her suggestion (she’s a fabulous cook, I’m not). Coulda put them in a vase, they are much too beautiful to eat. I need to get more…

    Love your blog, and congrats on the Spec article today. I love your house!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Adele – I haven’t seen the article yet but my mother called me screaming and whooping this morning. I didn’t tell her so it would be a surprise. :) ~ karen

  8. Holly says:

    Scapes and boos? You made that up, right?

  9. marilyn says:

    im excited too…i have to learn how to send u some pics. i do lots of stuff y never know about because i am a luddite..

  10. IrishJenn says:

    I got garlic scapes in my CSA last summer and had no idea what they were. I had to post a picture on facebook to see if any of my friends could help. Whatever did we do before the interwebs?

    BTW, when I have my first, full-on belly laugh at 6:30 am, I feel it sets the tone for the rest of my day. So, thanks for that.

  11. I ment to say escape yet should I worry…

  12. I do not have my scopes yet…

  13. mimiindublin says:

    eSCAPES…..brilliant! I love your sense of humour.

  14. Dava says:

    Love the hat look. However, I usually made scape pesto with mine. Put some scape pesto under the skin of your chicken before baking…yummo!

  15. Mary says:

    Let’s cut to the scape – I planted the garlic as you instructed last fall and I will now snip off the squiggly boos. Still waiting, however, to hear how your squash in a cage worked out – mine is starting to head in the direction of my neighbours side door and must be restrained.

    • Karen says:

      Mary – Just as my squash started to get huge last year it got powdery mildew and croaked. The cage seemed to be working out though. This year I plan to vertiacalize the squash. ~ k!

  16. Heather says:

    HaHa! As always–useful and entertaining. A scape hat will be on the to do list for this weekend. Very Eco-chic. Possibly a bit Eco-geek too, but both are in fashion. Thank you for the reminder!

  17. marion says:

    Great pictures – you are hilarious!

  18. Krikit says:

    Luv the pics! “…..scape porn….” LOL! ~;D

  19. Gayla T says:

    You are a nut case! A good nut case but pretty nutty. As a retired floral designer I have to tell you that garlic arrangements may not ever make it big but the hat???? If you attached them to aluminum foil hats I know you could sell them to people on YouTube. They would protect from harmful rays emitted from a UFO and werewolves on the ground. I just heard a few day ago that the US govt. is putting together a new defense system called ScapeWars so you are ready. Go for it! No home safe room should be w/o them.

  20. nancyeileen says:

    From the scaaaapes.
    I was horrified you might think I was suggesting your adorable ‘Cindy Who’ photo’s

    • Sherri says:

      nancyeileen—Cindy Lou Who from Whoville was my first thought when I saw the photo of Karen with her “scapeband”, too! GMTA! She’s a nut job, isn’t she? (Karen, not Cindy Lou Who. Cindy Lou appears to be a perfectly normal and very sweet little girl. Karen has never been normal.)

  21. nancyeileen says:

    Now I know where they got the idea for the alien creature in Prometheus.

  22. nancy says:

    you’re scaring me

  23. Amanda says:

    I am cracking up at your scape hat!!! I think that last “looking over your shoulder” pic should be your new avatar LOL

    Also makes me wish that I had found your blog last fall… I could be using garlic as a SCAPEgoat to investigate my garden tonight!!!

  24. Sk Farm Girl says:

    I have to say I quite like the “scape” fascinator hat. You could sell those and make a million. Just remember who suggested they become fascintor hats!! Damn, wish I would have gotten my garlic in last fall! Oh well, there is always this fall!

    • Karen says:

      O.k. I’m kind of freak out excited everyone went out and put their pictures up today. Oh. Right. Garlic. Yeah … garlic’s good. :) ~ karen/laura

      • Jen H. says:

        Don’t get too freaked out- not everyone had a chance yesterday…..I was curious as to how many responders would have avatars today. Proves that it was truly that easy

  25. Cindy Marlow says:

    Even though it’s midnight, I got excited by the thought of scape porn so I took my flashlight out to check my garlic. There are not any scapes yet but I did get hit on by an amorous firefly. Who’s the lucky girl? Me!

    • Karen says:

      I *love* getting so excited about something I run outside with a flashlight until I get hit with a bug. I do it all the time! Honestly. ~ karen

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