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ensuring plants are watered. The beds require even mois- ture in the spring and early summer (through to mid-July) so pay attention to watering if spring is trending towards dry. The planting site can be top dressed with quality compost in May, after which no additional fertilizer will be required. Pretty easy! Summer scapes and fall harvesting

The next exciting phase in the garlic growing process

comes as the scapes snake their way up into the July garden. There is full on disagreement about whether or not remov- ing the scapes influences the size of the garlic bulbs come harvest time, but one thing is for sure: garlic scapes are a tasty bit of foreplay ahead of the main attraction. If you decide to snip off the scapes they can be prepared in a myriad of delicious ways, all of which are profoundly garlicky. The easiest is to simply steam them and add a little butter and lemon juice. Another is to sauté them, alone or with other summer veggies. Garlic scape pesto is a wonder- fully straightforward path to accolades from your dinner guests. If you decide to leave the scapes on, the advantage is the formation of the bulbils which can be saved for the long, but reliable, goal of growing lots more garlic. Perhaps the best way to resolve this scape or no scape issue is to experi- ment, and leave some on while clipping others off. As July turns into early August garlic will develop broad

leaves, with each set corresponding to a layer of wrapper on the developing bulb. Within a couple of weeks the first set of leaves will start to yellow, which is the big clue that harvest time has arrived. Although nothing terribly bad happens if timing is a little off, garlic cloves will start to break apart from the tight bulb if left in the soil for an extended period, significantly diminishing the storage life. Each season has its own course, so keep in mind the flexible

nature of harvesting and get to know the signs of mature garlic. Perhaps the most delicate part of growing garlic comes at

harvest time. It does not take much to damage the bulbs, and each little nick or bruise is an opportunity for the crop to be spoiled. The perfect tool for home garlic harvest is the hands. Use your fingers to gently feel your way around the bulb and lift from the base up. Avoid pulling plants up by the leaves or scape. Once out of the ground the bulbs can have any loose soil carefully tapped off (but no deep cleaning just yet), and then be set aside for curing. Curing is the process of slowly air drying the bulbs, with leaves and stock left in place. The ideal location is a screened porch or gazebo, where lots of air passes through and there is shelter from direct sun and moisture. Hardneck garlic is very difficult to braid, so bunches are loosely gathered and held together by string. A handy technique is to hang the garlic off of a wooden clothes drying rack, or off the rafters in a suitable building. Some growers let garlic cure in the garden, but this only works if there is no chance of rain for at least a two week period. So, go for the sheltered location! Once curing is complete the leaves, stalk and roots can be

trimmed off, leaving about one inch on top and a half inch on the roots. The storage life of well grown and harvested hardneck garlic ranges from four to nine months depending in the variety. Garlic is too easy to grow to miss out on this gorgeous

homegrown taste, and it is one of the BIG opportunities for the fall gardener. Happy planting. K Dave Hanson is a gardening columnist and media personal-

ity with a lifelong love of all things herbal, and the co-owner of Sage Garden Greenhouses in Winnipeg, Manitoba. For more information visit

Bulbils form at the end of the garlic scapes. Roasted garlic is this issue's garden fresh recipe. Roasted garlic The tantalizing sweet taste of roasted garlic is a

flavour you do not want to miss; it can even turn garlic haters to lovers. Begin by cutting the top off the head of a good-sized garlic bulb and rub olive oil over the exposed cloves. Wrap the bulb with aluminum foil and place in an oven warmed to 400F for 30 to 40 minutes or until the cloves feel soft when pressed. You can enjoy roasted garlic right out of the bulb or rub it onto crisp bread. You can also add it to pasta, salads, meat dishes and basically anything else!

12 • Beautiful Gardens 2015 Seed garlic Seed garlic is produced by speciality growers who

are looking for the top graded crop, setting aside infe- rior bulbs for use as table garlic. Seed garlic growers select disease free, undamaged heads that are medium to large in size (too small and they yield weak bulbs the next season; too large and they are also inferior). In addition, seed garlic growers rejuvenate their stock on a regular basis, to ensure the unique characteristics of each strain remain true to type. This is done by grow- ing new stock up from the tiny bulbils (mini garlic bulbs) that form at the end of garlic scapes, a process that takes up to five years but is also the only way to ensure varietal integrity over time.

Photo by Mike Peel.

Photo by Mike Peel.

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