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How to Grow Green Garlic

Green garlic is a delicious seasonal spring treat that you really need to grow to enjoy. The garlicky shoots are one more way to enjoy garlic in the garden & kithen.

clump of spring green garlic with long roots and dark clove coating remnants laying on garden soil with text overlay "how to grow, harvest, store & eat green garlic"

Green Garlic will test your willpower. If you dig up too you’ll miss out on the scapes and heads of garlic but it’s so good and it’s ready when the rest of the garden is still half asleep.

If you’ve never grown garlic you need to know that it is the crop that keeps on giving. I’ve pushed it to the limit in every way it always comes through for me.

Last year I didn’t get around to pulling the last of my garlic until it was too late (thanks rabbits for making babies in my garlic bed) and the heads had separated in the ground.

I left them for the rest of the summer and over the winter and this spring I have delicious green garlic. It’s pretty convenient and I have terrible luck with scallions so I’ll probably just let the cycle continue.

What is Green Garlic?

Green garlic or spring garlic is the immature garlic bulbs and stems, harvested before the bulbs fill out. For me it’s a gardening accident turned into a gourmet recipe ingredient.

green garlic clump in a garden bed with various garden tools in the background

Any garlic can be used as green garlic, you just to pick it before it’s mature. However seed garlic is expensive and I’m not in a financial position to be ripping up all my garlic in the immature phase.

Part of the magic of garlic is that it’s a self-propagating crop. You plant one clove and get a whole head of cloves! I buy most of my seed garlic at the Little Falls Garlic Festival, I have no self control and in an average year I’ll blow $50 on seed garlic.

I gave some away and planted the rest in a 4×8 foot garden bed. Finger crossed this year I’ll get it out of the ground on time this year and I’ll have enough to eat and plant.

Side note, if you’re lucky enough to live near agricultural festivals, GO TO THEM! One year I took my mom, grandma and the girls and it was a perfect day. We went on a horse drawn wagon ride, ate garlic ice cream, the girls danced to live music and conned my Grandma into buying them a handful of peacock feathers.

How to Grow Green Garlic

Green garlic is grown exactly like regular garlic right up until you pull it in the spring. Where I live in Central New York we grow hard neck garlic and we plant it in the late fall.

You don’t have to specifically plant garlic for green garlic. Maybe you got a bit too ambitious with the planting and need to thin things out again? Or maybe you’re the worst garden blogger ever and you just forgot 1/4 of a bed of garlic in the ground last summer and you’d really like that space for something else.

The quick version is: cloves in the ground 2 inches deep, cover with compost or rotted animal bedding, ignore until spring. For the long version:

Learn How to Grow Hardneck Garlic in your vegetable garden

Garlic always wins the early bird award in my garden. Around here I see the little baby garlic green sticking up in late February or early March depending on the snow situation.

In the beginning of April it’s about 6 inches tall above the ground and by early May it’s over a foot tall. I’ll start picking a bit here and there, mostly for egg drop soup because I’m literally drowning in eggs.

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The majority will get pulled when the asparagus starts coming in, early to mid-May depending on the weather. I will leave some behind to keep multiplying for next years green garlic crop.

It amazes me that I can’t tell you what we’re having for dinner tonight but I can tell you where I’ll be planting my garlic in 2022. Is the a gardener thing or am I just odd?

You can pull green garlic at any time in the spring up through the regular harvest in early summer. The longer it grows toward maturity the stronger the garlicky flavor gets.

How to Eat Green Garlic

Think of green garlic as a garlicky scallion. Like a green onion, you can use everything but the roots.

It’s pretty unlikely that you’ll find many recipes for green garlic in cookbooks. It’s one of those amazing seasonal treats that only gardeners really know about.

You can try to swap it out in recipes for scallions, leeks, garlic scapes, or garlic. Just make sure you taste as you go, the flavor might be stronger or weaker than you expect!

I’m a simple girl at heart, elaborate recipes have no place in my kitchen. Most of my green garlic ends up in egg drop soup.

Want to know why all homesteady people have the same hobbies? Check out this article I wrote on The Homesteading Lifestyle

Green Garlic Recipes

If you aren’t as adventurous in the kitchen (and by that I mean you actually have a plan) here are a few green garlic recipes to get you started:

This recipe for Green Garlic Pesto from Tyrant Farms would also work with garlic scapes if you happened to be farther along in the never ending cycle of garlic growing.

Green Garlic Potato Salad from Christina’s Cucina

Green Garlic Mushroom Risotto from A Virtual Vegan

Green Garlic Baby Leek Potato Soup from Boulder Locavore

Spring Lamb Stew with Green Garlic from Cooking on the Weekends

How to Store Green Garlic

When you bring your green garlic in from the garden it’s probably going to be more than a bit dirty, it does grow underground after all. I try to gently knock off as much dirt as possible in the garden.

close up shot of spring green garlic with long roots and dark clove coating remnants

You should be able to gently pry the clump of green garlic stalks apart, which will take care of most of the dirt. While you’re out there you can also gently pull off the dark coatings on the green garlic, they’re the remains of last years coating on the garlic cloves.

I just rip the roots off in the garden with my bare hands like a feral animal. But you can also use scissors (this is one of many reasons my hands are always a mess).

Once you’re back in the kitchen give the plants a rinse under cool water to get rid of the rest of the dirt. If you aren’t going to be using it right away you can stick it in a glass jar with about an inch of water at the bottom.

Put the garlic in the water, in the fridge and it should keep for at least a week. The real beauty of growing your own green garlic is that you can store it in the ground, in the garden.

Check out my Vegetable Garden page for more ideas or start here:

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