Originating in western China, garlic chives (Allium tuberosum) have been used in Asian cuisine for thousands of years. Unlike the traditional tubular leaves of regular chives, garlic chives have flat, narrow blades; some gardeners blanch their garlic chives, causing them to develop a pale yellow color. Traditional pad Thai, Chinese jiaozi, and various Korean dishes such as buchukimchi often contain garlic chives; they also make a popular addition to stir fries, soups, and dishes with eggs or fish. The delicately garlic scented leaves of Allium tuberosum are often used more as a vegetable than an herb, and may also substitute for standard chives. Garlic chives provide abundant vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, calcium, and iron.
Sowing: Garlic chive seeds grow well in a variety of soil types, though they prefer moist, well drained soil and full sun or partial shade. In short growing seasons, the seed can be started indoors in a flat; provide bottom heat for fastest germination. To direct sow, plant the garlic chive seeds after the last frost of spring 1/4″ deep in rows 18″ apart, thinning to 6-8″ apart as soon as the seedlings appear. Germination should take place within 14 days. Garlic chives also grow well as a container plant. For companion planting benefits, plant garlic chives with carrots; this improves the carrots’ flavor and production.
Growing: Keep the soil moist while the seedlings are developing. Garlic chives will spread vigorously with each year of growth, and can easily be divided for new plantings. To prevent the plant from reseeding itself, be sure to remove the developing seed heads and keep the plant trimmed. To blanch the developing leaves, cover the plant with a thick layer of straw. After several frosts, cut the plant down to the ground.
Harvesting: The first year of their planting, garlic chives should not be harvested to ensure their strong development. In the second year of their growth, harvest garlic chives at any time after they reach a length of 6″, cutting them 1/2″ above the soil with a sharp knife or scissors. Frequent cutting actually improves production, since this signals new growth; the growth of the flowers causes the leaf growth to slow down dramatically. The leaves keep in the refrigerator for about a week; they can also be frozen, but lose all flavor when dried. The leaves should be added to hot dishes at the last minute, since they soon lose their flavor with heat. The strong onion-flavored buds and flowers are also edible and make wonderful garnishes.
Seed Saving: Allow the flowers to mature and develop seed heads. When the seed heads turn brown, remove them before they open and drop their seed. Spread them out to dry in a protected location away from direct sunlight. Rub the dried heads to separate the seeds from the pods. Store the seeds in a cool, dry place for up to 2 years.
Common Names: Oriental Garlic, Asian Chives, Chinese Chives, Chinese Leek
Latin Name: Allium tuberosum
Type: Open Pollinated, Heirloom, Cool Season|Warm Season
Life Cycle: Perennial
USDA Zones: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Seeds per Ounce: 10,000
Planting Method: Direct Sow
Sunlight: Full Sun, Part Sun
Height: 14 Inches
Bloom Season: Blooms Late Summer, Blooms Early Fall
Uses: Attracts Butterflies, Aromatic
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