Garlic shoots, or scapes, are used to add a mild garlic flavor to cooked dishes. The scape is actually the flower shoot and is produced only by hard-neck garlic varieties. Hardneck types are labeled as such when purchased and may also be labeled as purple striped, porcelain or rocambole. The shoots must be removed in order for the bulbs to reach their full potential, so you get the benefit of fresh scapes for use in the kitchen plus the promise of large garlic bulbs later. The scapes are ready for harvest by midsummer, while the bulbs will be ready for harvest in late summer or early fall.
Prepare a well-drained, full-sun garden bed in early fall so the bed is ready for planting two weeks prior to the first fall frost. Lay a 2-inch layer of compost over the bed and till it in to an 8-inch depth to aid drainage and soil quality.
Separate the garlic cloves from the bulb, leaving the papery skin in place. Plant each clove 2 inches deep with the flat side of the clove on the bottom. Space cloves 6 inches apart in rows.
Water the garlic immediately after planting, then cover the bed with a 4-inch layer of straw mulch. Mulching preserves soil moisture and prevents cold damage to the plants.
Remove the straw once all danger of frost danger has passed in the spring. Water the bed once a week, providing 1 to 2 inches of water at each irrigation. Garlic may require additional water during hot, dry periods in summer.
Harvest the shoots in mid-summer before the flower buds open. Cut them off at their base. Harvest the bulbs once all the foliage has yellowed and died back naturally.