How to grow gar­lic chives

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Plants With A Purpose -

Al­lium tubero­sum does best in light, fer­tile soil with plenty of or­ganic mat­ter, but will grow read­ily in most soils. Full sun is pre­ferred, al­though they will grow in light shade.

They are tougher than chives ( Al­lium

schoeno­pra­sum), sur­viv­ing through the heav­i­est frosts. They are also taller, and have tuber­ous roots rather than bul­blets like chives. Th­ese long roots do best in built-up beds with good drainage and soil depth.

How­ever, you need a lit­tle more pa­tience as gar­lic chives are slower grow­ing than or­di­nary chives, and it doesn’t pay to hurry them along.

I have grown them from seed, but they can be un­re­li­able if the seed is not fresh, and they take for­ever to get to size. Four or five-year old clumps can be di­vided and this is the quick­est way to prop­a­gate them.

Whether you go for seed or di­vi­sion-grown, plants need to es­tab­lish be­fore your start pick­ing. Flower stems on young plants should be re­moved, al­low­ing plants to build up strength. This also avoids self­seed­ing, re­ported to be a prob­lem (al­though per­son­ally I have found chives to be the more pro­lific).

Once planted, it’s easy to for­get about gar­lic chives in the gar­den. Like gar­lic, they don’t com­pete well and soon get smoth­ered in weeds with­out reg­u­lar weed­ing. They are best kept mulched if you don’t want to lose them.

Plants will sur­vive con­sid­er­able drought, but if stressed they be­come tougher in tex­ture and stronger flavoured. For the best flavour, you want to keep the plants evenly moist. When wa­ter­ing, wa­ter thor­oughly to en­cour­age deep root­ing.

If you are se­ri­ous about us­ing gar­lic chives, it is bet­ter to grow sev­eral plants due to their lower pro­duc­tion. What I’ve found is once you catch the flavour, you will want more than one plant.

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