Around the end of May through mid June, some of our organic Western Rose garlic (and most any hard-neck garlic) send up flowering shoots called scapes. This usually means the bulbs are forming and that harvest is not too far behind.
We cut the scapes off to force the plant to send its energy to the bulb, remove the flowering top and use them much like chives in food. They have an amazing fresh flavor that isn’t as strong as garlic.
Here’s a very simple recipe for garlic scape pesto we enjoyed (pictured above). If local growers have them, they’ll be at your farmer’s market right now. We hope to have more next year.
1/2 cup garlic scapes
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup pine nuts
3/4 cup basil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Toast pine nuts in a skillet. Blend toasted pine nuts with garlic scapes, cheese, basil, and lemon juice in a food processor adding olive oil until smooth. Salt to taste.
The idea of starting a bee sanctuary at Half Hill Farm is taking on a life of its own.
As we weeded the garden before the rain, I caught this alfalfa leafcutter bee (pictured above) weaving in an out of the tomatoes. This and a couple other solitary bees were pollinating the buds of the Giant Beef Steaks and had taken up residence in the bamboo supports. We’ve seen more solitary bees than honey bees this year.
Hosting solitary bees is an obvious first step to bee keeping. They aren’t social (so no swarm), rarely sting, don’t make honey, and are great pollinators. Due to colony collapse disorder of hives, some experts are suggesting people start hosting solitary bees.
The idea of creating a bee sanctuary at the farm was inspired by May Berenbaum, Department Chair of Entomology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in this NPR story on bee deaths reaching a crisis point. Her suggestion: “Plant more flowers!”
Judging from the number of bumbling mason bees we have, I’d also suggest building more barns. We have to have about 15 of them turning the barn wood to swiss cheese, but they happen to be our #1 pollinator for our cucumbers. As we continue to plan a small sanctuary for both hives and solitary bees, we’re going to test placing a few of these simple mason bee condos to see if it creates a more hospitable alternative.