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I always thought growing garlic would be so complicated, but nothing could be further from the truth! As long as you remember to plant in fall (and not spring!), garlic is almost a set-it-and-forget-it vegetable crop. The best part?

Garlic scapes!

Once I learned that hardneck garlic varieties had the advantage of providing garlic scapes to eat in the summer, I decided to only plant those varieties from then on. In this blog post, I’ll provide answers to some common questions about garlic scapes, plus information on how to grow them, when to harvest them, and more!

The difference between hardneck & softneck garlic

There are two main differences between hardneck and softneck garlic: their growing conditions and whether or not they produce garlic scapes. Softneck garlic varieties are better suited to warmer climates and generally have a longer shelf life, and hardneck garlic varieties are best suited to colder climates (like where I garden in Zone 3).

As for garlic scapes, hardneck varieties are the only varieties that produce them, so gardeners in the Northern United States and Canada are especially lucky! For more information about growing and harvesting garlic in a cold climate, check out this blog post:


Where and when to purchase garlic bulbs (for eventual garlic scapes!)

The best time to purchase garlic bulbs is anytime between July and September. You can get them at West Coast Seeds, Veseys, T & T Seeds, and often locally at your farmer’s market or garden centre.

Whether you start with a rich purple or red-skinned garlic variety, or the common paler white variety, don’t be too concerned if your bulbs change colour from planting to harvest. Depending on your climate, soil, and other environmental factors, the same variety of garlic can grow differently from garden to garden and changes in colour are completely natural.

If your garlic plants are healthy, you can plant the bulbs again year after year from your own harvest, or you can buy new bulbs from year to year to try more varieties! It’s completely up to you. Want to learn more about growing and harvesting garlic? Check out the video below:



Can you plant garlic from the store?

Give it a try! The only problem is that you might not know if it is a hardneck or softneck variety. But if it is locally sourced and the grower gives you that information, then go for it!

How long does it take for garlic to grow?

Garlic is typically planted in September or October in the Canadian Prairies, and the scapes usually appear from late June to mid-July, depending on the weather.

When are garlic scapes ready to harvest?

Wait until the scape is curled around itself, but get to it before the flower opens. Take a look at my 2022 garlic scape harvest in the short video below!

Do garlic scapes grow back?

Unfortunately, no. Fortunately, once harvested, they will stay fresh in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks and can be kept in the freezer for up to 12 months!

What part of the garlic scapes do you eat?

You can eat everything, but I typically cut the flower part away.

What do you make with garlic scapes?

I find garlic scapes have a beautiful garlic flavour and I love adding them to soups, chopping them up to fry with eggs or as part of a stir fry, or in any recipe that calls for garlic or onions. They’re also delicious in pesto, pickled (either on their own or with other vegetables), or made into a dressing.

And that’s it! Have you tried garlic scapes before? Or will you try some for the first time this year? Find me on Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram for more cold-climate vegetable gardening tips, delicious recipes, and cut flower goodness! I also make weekly videos over on my YouTube channel. I hope to see you there!

P.S. If you love the content I create for Shifting Roots, consider joining our community on Patreon. Your support means the world to me and I am grateful for each and every one of you!


Green thumbs aren’t just given out at birth. They’re a combination of learning about gardening and trial and error. If you wish you knew more about gardening and had more confidence in your abilities, you need the Growing Roots Gardening Guide

It’s an e-book plus 6 bonuses. Everything you need to go from complete garden newb to confident gardener in one growing season. Get all the details of what’s inside here. 

Happy gardening!

Kristen Raney

Kristen Raney

Kristen is a former farm kid turned urban gardener who owns the popular gardening website, Shifting Roots.  She is obsessed with growing flowers and pushing the limits of what can be grown in her zone 3b garden.  She also loves to grow tomatoes, but oddly enough, dislikes eating them raw.

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Hi, I'm Kristen and I help new gardeners learn to grow their own vegetables and beautify their yards. I also share recipes that use all that delicious garden produce. Grab a coffee (and your gardening gloves) and join me for gardening tips, simple recipes, and the occasional DIY, all from the lovely city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

P.S. First time gardener? You'll want to download the quick start gardening guide below!