Let’s talk garlic (and chives)

I purchased my garlic bulbs from seedsaversexchange towards the end of last summer. The bulbs were delivered early fall along with an easy to follow growing guide on prepping, planting, growing and harvesting. I’m really into KIS (keeping it simple) so having a user friendly manual added to the mix was great. Seedsavers is where I purchase most of my seeds throughout the year and i’ve had an almost 100% success rate with planting so far. High five. Check out their site and support their mission to keep heirloom seeds and plants in our gardens and food crops for future generations.

  • How to plant garlic: gently separate the bulb being careful not to tear or remove the papery outer layer. Plant individual cloves pointy side up 6-8in apart in rows 12in apart. Cover with grass clipping, mixed leaves or straw. I chose dried pine needles and leaves because we had an abundance of both and it worked very well. Make sure to cut the scapes (garlic chives) once they hit about 10in or they will inhibit growth in the bulb. Harvest mid to late Summer. Store in a cool, dry place.

I’ve learned a lot about patience since beginning my organic farming journey 8 months ago and garlic is at the top of my list for requiring patience. Not because it needs extra special attention but because it takes about 8 months to fully develop the bulbs for harvesting. Crazy, right? I’ll be checking on my crop in the next few weeks and showing you (hopefully) an abundance of fully developed garlic bulbs to store for fall/winter use just in time to get the next batch of garlic going for the winter season.

So, have you ever tried to grow your own garlic? Or tasted a garlic chive? If you answered no to one or both of these questions then you’re not alone. I’d never even heard of or tried one until I planted garlic in potting soil bags this past November. Garlic is a very set-it and forget-it kinda bulb which in my opinion is ideal if you’re new to growing. Added bonus? You get a pretty extensive supply of beautiful and tasty green chive-esque toppers that start shooting up through the soil right as the seasons become a little warmer. Even better? The scapes grow in abundance pretty much up until you’re ready to harvest in early/mid Summer. It’s like Mother Natures reward for all of your patience through the chillier months (and for keeping the chickens from scratching away at your pine needle/dead leave covering to reach the bugs). All in all growing garlic is pretty low key and a good place to start if you’re a newly skilled grower.

“What should I do with the chives?”

They’re great added to salads, soups, eggs, stir frys and much more. I tend to add them to most everything. You can dice them up for immediate use, store in the refrigerator for later use (up to 3 days) or even dehydrate them and crush in a blender for use throughout the year (dehydrate at 135 degrees for 8-12hrs; store in an air tight container). The dehydrated powder makes a great onion/garlic combo seasoning you can sprinkle on just about any savory dish. So cool and so good!

“What’s a garlic chive taste like?”

I like to describe it as an onion and a clove of garlic lovingly had a baby. Awe. The initial taste has a little bit of bite akin to horseradish that burns your nose hairs a little then fills your mouth w/familiar aromas of garlic cloves and the onion-y goodness you’ll quickly recognize…but better. Yes! Better than the smell of garlic and onions simmering on your stove in harmony (the foundation to most any good savory recipe; the yin to the yang of the cooking world). It’s spectacular AF. With all that being said, I’ve only played around with sprinkling freshly diced garlic chives on top of things or added them to recipes towards the end of the cooking time. So while this wonderful otherworldly garlic/onion hybrid is very nice it probably doesn’t replace ole faithful; straight up olive oil, garlic and onions sautéing in a pan. Mmm. Nevertheless they’re quite tasty. Go give garlic chives a chance and share your experiences with me here or leave a reply below.

Next post on CityGirlOrganics.com: Growing in Potting Soil Bags