It's garlic time! We just harvested all the garlic for the year. It's been in the ground since last Fall. We save back some of what we harvest to plant the next year. All those garlic cloves? Each one is a seed to be planted. We "overwinter" the garlic, meaning we plant it in the fall to let it get a good growing start. When it gets cold, the garlic goes dormant, and then in the Spring when the weather gets warmer, it already has a head start to shoot up!
There are so many different varieties of garlic. We grow a few.
There are three main parts of the plant you can eat at different growing stages:
Garlic bulbs (what you know of as "garlic")
Garlic scapes: In the Spring, when the garlic gets growing again, the plant sends up a shoot that would become a flower. Before the flower blooms, we cut off the curly shoot... that's the "scape." The top part of the plant. You eat the stem of the flower. You can use it in any way you'd eat garlic, but it's a little more mild, so it's also great raw on a salad, sautéed in greens, made into pesto, and many other ways. Not only are the scapes delicious to eat, it also helps the plant put its energy into the roots to form bigger garlic bulbs.
Green garlic: After the scapes have been cut, but before the bulb forms in the ground, you can pull the plant and eat the white part at the end that will become the bulb, all the way up the stem of the plant, where it's tender and juicy. All of the stem tastes like garlic and you can use it in similar ways to garlic scapes or regular garlic.
Cured garlic: Once the garlic bulbs are fully formed, we pull the entire plant and let it dry in a breezy place out of the sun... usually the shed or barn. It needs to be warm and dry, with as much airflow as possible. This dries out the stem and the paper-like film around the garlic cloves. It takes usually 2-3 weeks to fully cure. The stem gets brown and papery, and finally, we snip off the bulb from the stem, peel the dirty outer layers and you get your clean garlic bulb in your box. You of course can use garlic in so many dishes. I love to save mine up and make roasted garlic, to spread on toast or add to sauces or just eat as is.
And you know garlic has so many health benefits, which I won't go into here. But it's delicious and healthful. Enjoy your garlic!