A relatively new vegetable in the English-speaking world but well-known in Asian cuisine, the flavour of garlic chives is more like garlic than chives, though much milder. Both leaves and the stalks of the flowers are used as flavouring similarly to chives, green onions or garlic.
In Asian cuisine they are also known as Ku chai, Koo chye or Gau choy and are a key ingredient in many stir fry recipes. The leaves can be blanched to make them more tender and the flowers may also be used as a spice.
The plant has a distinctive growth habit with strap-shaped leaves unlike either onion or garlic, and straight thin white-flowering stalks that are much taller than the leaves. It grows in slowly expanding perennial clumps, but also readily sprouts from seed. The rest of the plant is edible too the bulbs used like shallots and the flowers as garnish or mild flavouring.
Besides its use as vegetable, it also has attractive flowers that are very beautiful in the garden. The white flowers, produced in dense flat sprays have a delightful fragrance of old-fashioned roses and are as pretty as any house plant. A few pots on your kitchen window sill will perfume the whole room.
Sow indoors in spring, or directly outdoors in early Summer
Sow the seeds indoors using normal potting compost. Make sure the compost remains moist. The seedlings will appear a week to ten days later. Transfer them outside once all risk of frost has gone. Plant 10cm (8in) apart.
Full sun and fertile ground is preferable and although they are fairly tolerant of drought, don't plant them in very dry places. The ideal soil is well-dug with the addition of well-rotted compost or organic material. Work in a handful or two of bonemeal per square metre (yard). It is not necessary to feed throughout the year if the soil has been prepared before planting.
Cut the leaves with scissors when required, starting with the outside leaves (those nearest the edge of the pot) and working your way inwards. Always leave 5cm (2in) of leaves remaining. The leaves rapidly grow back and can be cut several times in the growing season. Plants grown from seed should be left alone (although remove the emerging flower heads) until July in the first year to allow a good root system to establish itself.
Garlic Chives produce a mass of white flowers in late Spring, and a second flush may well occur between June to July. If you are growing the plants for eating only, these flowers should be removed as soon as possible - if left, they restrict the growth of new leaves. If the flowers are required for eating or for their colour, it is best to keep separately a couple of chive plants for this purpose. When the flowers are starting to fade, cut the whole plant to 5cm (2in) from ground level and you will then have a second set of leaves produced and probably a second flush of flowers
Chives are very similar to onions, they have a bulbous root and green leaves. Simply dig up the clump of bulbs in March or October, carefully separate them into individual bulbs and replant with the tips of the bulbs level with the soil surface. They thrive on this method of propagation, because it relieves the congestion in the bulbs. Divide every few years when production seems to slow. Pull mature bulbs in Autumn. Save only healthy, true-to-type bulbs for replanting and eat the rest. Store in cool dark areas and replant bulbs in the spring.
Companion Planting and Pest Repellent:
As a member of the allium family, they will help to deter most insects, including aphids, mosquitoes, carrot flies and tomato pests. They are also a useful in the fight against, moles, mice slugs and weevils!
- Additional Information
Packet Size 1 gram Average Seed Count 200 Seeds Seed Form Natural Seeds per gram 210 - 220 seeds per gram Common Name Chinese leek, Oriental garlic chives, Ku chai, Koo chye or Gau choy Family Alliaceae Genus Allium Species tuberosum Cultivar Garlic Chives Hardiness Bulbous Perennial Flowers White flowers, produced in dense flat sprays Natural Flower Time July to August Foliage Thin, strap-shaped leaves Height 30 to 40cm (12 to 15in) Spread 15cm (6in) Position Full Sun prefered Soil Fertile, Well-drained, light. Time to Sow Sow indoors in spring, or directly outdoors in early Summer Germination Seedlings will appear in a week to ten days. Harvest Cut the leaves with scissors when required. Time to Harvest Plants grown from seed should be left alone until July in the first year.