Admittedly, my garden has been neglected this year. Normally, by now I would have mostly transitioned my fall garden and have started planting my spring garden. However, this year I’m behind schedule, but when I went out into the yard today to look at the garden and yard, I discovered that my yard was flowering. So, here are some quick pictures of the variety of plants which are kind enough to be flowering in my back yard and garden.
Garlic Chives or Chinese Chives (Allium tuberosum) are a quick growing, hardy, plant which needs very little maintenance or care. They are a prolific grower, and 1-2 plants are generally enough for a home garden. They are a good choice for a beginner garden and, also, add value to established gardens. They look especially beautiful as a border around a garden with their bountiful blooms. The garlic chive is similar to regular chives, yet, is distinctive for its garlic flavor as opposed to regular chives, which taste like onions. They are also called Chinese chives, Chinese leeks, or allium chives.
Garlic Chives Description
- Chive plants grow 10-20″ tall. The plant sports tall grass-like foliage that is flat and narrow. As it grows, the leaves curve downward with their tips pointing to the ground. This creates a fountain of green foliage that remains orderly and pretty all through the growing season. At the base of each leaf, the stem is a small white bulb which is edible, as are all parts of the plant.
- In the fall or late summer, they produce beautiful white flowers that bees and insects adore. The flower stalks emerge from the base of the plant and stand tall above the green leaves. A round bulb-like ball forms with dozens of tiny star-shaped flowers. Flower heads should be removed before going to seed since they self-seed easily and can quickly spread and become an invasive if not monitored.
Are Chives Perennial?
- Yes! Garlic chives grow in USDA hardiness zones 3-9. They have a long growing season and will grow all year-round in climates where the ground doesn’t freeze. In climates where the ground freezes, they will die back during cold weather and reemerge in the spring.
- To begin, choose a space in your garden which will be a good permanent place for them. Since they are perennial, they will need a designated spot. They need between 6-8 hours of sunlight a day. They like rich, well-drained, soil yet are adaptable to growing in a variety of soil types.
- Garlic chives can be grown from seed or started from divisions. To start them from seed, plant them 1/4″ deep and 6-8″ apart. Garlic chives grow slowly, just a few inches a year until they reach their mature height of 10-20″.
- To start growing chives from a division, carefully dig out a mature plant. Divide the plant into sections and plant each section in its own location with plenty of space. When you plant from divisions, hold off harvesting any leaves for the first year as they establish themselves.
- Once they are established, garlic chives need little care. They are very hardy and tolerant of heat, cold, and drought. Sometimes the center of the plant will die when it gets too large. If this happens, pull up the plant and remove the parts that are still good. These can be replanted as divisions.
- The leaves can be cut and used as soon as they are 3” tall. Cut down the leaves to the base, leaving just a bit of green showing. Like most greens, the leaves should be cut back on a regular basis to encourage new growth. The flower heads of Garlic chives can be cut off and used in salads. The small bulb roots can be pulled up for use in cooking. They have a strong garlic/onion flavor that can be used for a variety of culinary purposes.
How to harvest chives
- Harvest chives by cutting them just above the ground.
- For fresh chive tender chives, if the chives have been growing a long time, you might want to make crop first cutting and give them two weeks or so to allow the chives to grow back again fresh.
Clean the Chives
- Clean out the brown and dried pieces
- Wash thoroughly, but gently, and pat dry
Prep the Chives
- Even the up on a cutting board With your sharpest knife
- Mince them into 1/16″ to 1/8″ pieces
Freeze the Chives
- Put them loosely in a pint jar with a secure lid. Use of a wide mouth canning/freezing jar is recommended.
- Store them in the freezer.
Use the Chives
- When you are ready to use them, spoon out the desired amount without thawing them.
- Frozen chives are best used in cooking.
Common Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) is a hardy, bulbous-rooted, perennial plant, indigenous to France and Great Britain. The leaves, which are produced in tufts, are seven or eight inches in length, erect and cylindrical, or awl-shaped. The bulbs are white, oval, and of small size; usually measuring about half an inch in diameter. The flower-stalk rises to the height of the leaves, and produces, at its extremity, a globular group of purplish, barren flowers.
- Leaves have mild onion flavor. Chop them and add to salads egg and cheese dishes, cream cheese, mashed potatoes, hamburgers, sandwich spreads, soups, stews, and sauces.
- Chive bloom in mid to late summer make this an attractive border and edging plant.
- Bulbs exude a substance that makes plants good companions for carrots by discouraging a harmful fungus.
- Hardy perennial.
- 6-10 inches
- 12 inches Location
- Chives grow best in full sun in a fairly rich, moist soil, which is high in organic matter and has a pH of 6 to 8. Chives will, however, tolerate partial shade and most soil types. Chives should be fertilized several times during the growing season with a balanced commercial fertilizer or bone meal and manure.
- Sow seeds in spring or fall, in. deep in rows 12 in. apart. As soon as seedlings are established thin to 6 in. apart. Or set out nursery grown plants in early spring,
- Leaves can be cut 4-6 mo, after sowing: then cut often and close to ground.
- Leaves lose color in drying. Instead of drying, grow winter supplies indoors by potting a few clumps in fall and keeping them near a sunny window, Can also be preserved by deep freezing
- Lift and divide clumps every 3 or 4 yr.
Perennial foods, on the whole, are low maintenance sources of food once they’ve been established and their production can be improved with a little tender loving care. Many perennials will be in our backyard trees and/or are landscaping. Their form can be very ranging from bulbs, to berries, it’s to trees and bushes. When thinking of perennial foods, we must keep an open mind. Many edible foods are ignored by commercial markets, even though, many if not all were eaten by media and/or ancient peoples throughout history.
Please keep in mind that what is a perennial in your area is dictated by your area USDA Plant Hardiness Zone and the hardiness range of the plant itself.
Here is a starter list, which I will update as I have more time.
- Bunching onions
- Chinese leeks
- Elephant Garlic
- Egyptian Walking Onions
- Common Garlic
- Garlic Chives
- Potato Onions
- Musk Strawberry
Bushes & Shrub
- Autumn Olive
- Nanking Cherry
- Sea Buckthorns
- Prickly Pear Cactus
- Perennial Buckwheat
- Pearl Millet
- Indian Ricegrass
- Anise Hyssop
- Balm (Lemon Balm)
- Basil (Holy Basil, African Blue)
- Bunching onions
- Common Oregano ( aka wild marjoram)
- Egyptian Walking Onions
- French Tarragon
- Marsh Mello
- Mexican Oregano
- Winter Savory
- Bee Balm
- Elderberry Flower
- Purple Coneflower
- Rose Hips and Flowers
- Saffron Crocus
- Pear (Asian)
- Pear (European)
- Sour Cherry
- Kudzu Bean
- Winged Bean
- Honey locust Tree
- Mesquite Tree
- Pigeon Pea
- Scarlet Runner
- Black Walnut
- English Walnut
Vegetables and Greens
- Chayote (Squash)
- Common Grape (European)
- Fox Grape
- Muscadine Grape
Many perennial Forage Foods sources are available, also.
- Edible Flowers
- Perennial – ‘Common’ Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)
- Perennial – ‘Lemon’ Balm (Melissa officinalis)
- Perennial – Mexican Oregano (Poliomintha longiflora)
- Perennial – Rosemary (R.officinalis ‘Prostratus’)
- Perennial – Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
- Perennial – ‘Common’ Garlic (Allium sativum)
- Asparagus a great perennial garden crop
- Celery Alternatives You Can Grow In Your Garden
- What Are Forage Foods?