Garlic Chives are a handy little plant to have around - they also have a posher sounding name of Society Garlic. Whatever name you know them by, they’re delicious snipped up through a bean salad, added to scrambled eggs or sprinkled over steamed potatoes with butter.
They’re especially useful to have around at this time of the year when the Australian garlic suddenly becomes hard to get hold of in the shop.
Unless you grow your own garlic, you’re facing the conundrum of buying the less flavoursome, bottled minced Aussie garlic; compromising your beliefs in food health when you purchase the imported kind or going without.
Enter garlic chives – this little green plant is potently garlicky.
In previous years I've used it raw or in the ways described above, never thinking to use it as an actual garlic substitute until last year when the fresh Australian garlic disappeared from the supermarket, and the bottled variety seemed to disappear too. That's when I discovered that garlic chives are also wonderful in all manner of meals - even spaghetti bolognese!
To use it as a garlic substitute, simply pick a handful from the plant and use the scissors to snip them directly into the meal you are cooking. In the case of dishes such as bolognese where the garlic is usually added at the beginning, add the garlic chives towards the end.
And as a bonus, like most green leafy foods, garlic chives are also very nutritious. Rich in vitamin A and K, along with the B-complex group and also vitamin C; they also contain minerals such as iron, copper, zinc, manganese and calcium.
Garlic chives are part of the Allium family, being closely related to plain chives and onion chives, and also related to garlic and onions.
It's a tough perennial plant. I've grown it in a variety of soil conditions (including potted), in part shade to full sun and with varying amounts of water and love given.
The produce pretty purple flowers, depending on your climate as to the time of year. The flowers are also edible, and are very pungent. I enjoy them in salads, both for their flavour but also the prettiness factor. Bees also love the flowers- they seem to be a particular favourite with our native stingless bees.
Obviously, if you feed and mulch your garlic chives they'll be happier, but this isn't a complicated plant to grow and won't mind if you aren't a natural 'green thumb'.
Sourcing (or transplanting)
Most nurseries stock garlic chives, or if you have a gardening friend you could ask them for some. Garlic chives grow in clumps, which are easily separated into singular bulbs. This also means that it's easy to multiply your own plants! (As I've done in the above photograph, hence the clump being a little thinner than usual)
To transplant, give the chives a good prune and then use a garden fork or spoon to dig the clump up. Then simply separate the bulbs with your fingers - the bulbs are only small, about the size of spring onions. Transport home wrapped in damp newspaper and replant as soon as possible. The chives will appreciate a drink of seaweed solution after their trauma of being moved, too.
Tip: If you're having trouble separating the bulbs, fill a container with water and swish the roots around in it. The soil will loosen from the bulbs, and make untangling much easier.
So, are you going to give growing garlic chives a go?
Perhaps you already have some?
Do you have any recommended uses for them?
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