What the heck is this plant?
July 2, 2009 5:21 PM   Subscribe

Help me identify this weird plant growing in our garden.

My husband and I bought a house in Milwaukee recently and we found this weird plant growing in our garden (pic 1, pic 2). At first the stems were curly like a pig's tail, but as the white buds have gotten bigger the stems have become more like hooks.

Does anyone know what this is? It's driving us crazy. Thanks!
posted by christinetheslp to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Its some variety of onion/allium.
posted by blaneyphoto at 5:28 PM on July 2, 2009

Best answer: Yup. Looks like hardneck garlic.
posted by jon1270 at 5:29 PM on July 2, 2009

that is some kind of garlic. You can eat the stems -- they're called garlic scapes and they taste like mild garlic. great in salads, pesto, with eggs, etc. The flowers can also be steamed or sauteed.
posted by cubby at 5:43 PM on July 2, 2009

Yeah, I think those are garlic heads. Don't let them get too big or they'll get big seeds and the garlic in the ground will be stunted. Cut them even if you don't want the scapes and in a couple of weeks, after the first two or three sets of leaves brown, harvest your garlic.

Let it dry and use.
posted by Toekneesan at 5:57 PM on July 2, 2009

Walking onions?
posted by cabingirl at 5:58 PM on July 2, 2009

Best answer: I vote for garlic. Cut the scapes once they've made a full loop; clip most of the scape off, and give the bulb a chance to grow some more. As noted above, you can dice the scapes and turn them into pesto (Google "scape pesto") or use them in stir-fry.

Call your county's agricultural extension for harvest date. Where I am (Pennsylvania), I'll be harvesting this weekend. Carefully--and I mean carefully--dig the bulb out of the ground, trying not to nick it with your shovel. Use a soft brush to knock most of the dirt off. If you want to eat it fresh, treat as you would a store-bought bulb.

For longer-term storage, lay the bulb and stem in a cool, dry place to air for a few weeks. After that, cut the stem way back (leaving three or four inches above the bulb) and trim the roots back to about 1/4 inch. Place in a basket in a cool, dry place. This is all from memory, though, so you might want to read up on storing garlic.

I can some of mine and dry some--but the biggest bulbs get set aside as starters for the next crop, which I plant in October.

Volunteer garlic? Excellent. The ability to eat your own garlic year-round? Sublime.
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:17 PM on July 2, 2009

Best answer: It's garlic. If you cut the stems/scapes off, the bulbs will get bigger. These will be ready to dig up and eat in the fall, although, I have dug up and used some of my garlic already. Oh and if you don't cut the scapes off and either eat or dispose of them, those pods will drop little seeds all over your garden and reseed themselves. If you want lots more wild garlic next year, cool, but it can go pretty crazy if you don't keep it under control.
posted by pluckysparrow at 6:20 PM on July 2, 2009

Best answer: Garlic. Here's how how to harvest it. What an awesome find.
posted by jerseygirl at 6:26 PM on July 2, 2009

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