curving back on green
stems, hardneck garlic scapes loop,
Mid-June, a host of hardneck garlic plants have sent up their stiff green stems, topped by pointy, paper white scapes. These false seed heads do not produce viable seed and divert energy from the garlic bulbs multiplying below ground. To ensure a crop of mature bulbs, you're supposed to snip off the scapes, though I find this hard to do because they are so beautiful. So before I behead the false seed heads, I enjoy their graceful gyrations as they twist and turn on their long stalks, looking like white grebes with stiletto beaks and sinuous necks.
The miniature bulbs inside the white husks have the same sharp flavor as fresh garlic. Popping one into my mouth makes my eyes water. By harvesting the scapes in late spring we get to enjoy that garlic taste in salad dressings and sauces long before I harvest the bulbs in late summer.