This is our first year growing garlic! We ordered two varieties from Sow True Seeds in Asheville, and they got planted shortly before Thanksgiving last year. They are just about ready to be harvested, probably once June hits. It was amazing to see it come up so quickly after a long, cold winter, but I'm a fan of plants that grow with little effort.
A month or so before the garlic needs to be harvested, there is a unique culinary opportunity that only people growing their own garlic will usually have access to, unless you have a very thorough farmers market (I have never seen scapes at any around here). Chive blossoms were our first revelation of the growing season, but we can add garlic scapes to the list! These thick curly tendrils are really unblossomed flowers, and when harvested before blooming, can be consumed in a variety of ways. Check out the cooking blog to see what we did with them.
To harvest garlic scapes, you simply cut them at the base that the loopy shoot came off of. It is actually helpful for the garlic to do this, because it allows it to put more energy back into the bulb in its last few weeks, rather than in flowers you don't need. Everything I read said the best time of day to do this was afternoon, since the sap would more likely dry out and harm the plant less if it was already hot outside. It felt wrong to cut them off, because these were the sturdiest parts of the plants!
I had originally planned to harvest the garlic today, but everything I've read said it is best to wait at least two more weeks. Since it is going to have to dry for a few weeks anyway, we will just continue to be patient.