Late Summer Blooming Garlic Chives

If you enjoy cooking Asian foods, you’ll enjoy having a ready supply of garlic chives.

Garlic chives are the big brother of the more commonly grown onion chives. They grow about twice as tall and have a more assertive garlic flavor. Onion chives have small cylindrical leaves. Garlic chives have larger flat, triangular leaves.

Anytime during the growing season is the perfect time to plant this perennial herb. When purchasing, select a pot with as many young shoots as possible. They can easily be divided when transplanting, giving the seedlings more room to grow and multiplying your harvest.

Check the plant label to see if you’re getting  garlic chives (Allium tuberosum). When young garlic and onion chives look nearly identical. If the label is missing or vague, pick up the pot and take a sniff. The aroma of onion or garlic will reveal which one you have.

Plant garlic chives anywhere you have full sun and good drainage. Garden spots that tend to stay soggy after a hard rain will eventually rot the bulbous roots. Garlic chive blossoms appear in just before Labor Day. The white clusters are 2-3 inches across. If you allow them to set seed and dry, you will be rewarded with long lasting blossoms for dried flower arrangements.

The only problem with growing garlic chives is their ability to self-sow. Every spring I have an abundance of seedlings within a three foot radius of the main clump. Fortunately they can be pulled up with ease.

You can harvest chives as soon as you begin to see new growth. Clip a portion of the leaves to within 2-3 inches of the soil (yes, that low). Each time you clip during the growing season, cut a different section of the clump to give it time to recover. Chives can be kept with their ends in a glass of refrigerated water for several days before using.

Chives are a versatile kitchen herb, second only to parsley. Always use them fresh for the best flavor. Dried chives are not nearly as flavorful. Sprinkle diced chives on soups or salads for a light touch of onion flavor. Add some garlic chives to scrambled eggs or omelets. Mix either of them into your favorite casserole. Their subtle flavor and green confetti look will make any dish more appealing.

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