How to Keep Garlic Chives From Taking Over Your Garden

August 14th, 2010

Eat the flowers.

Garlic Chives Flower Buds

Garlic Chives Flower Buds

Well not really the flowers, but the flower buds. There was a simple and delicious recipe published earlier this year in Saveur magazine as part of a feature on home cooking in Taiwan. Supposedly the name of the dish – Cang Ying Tou – translates to “Fly’s Head”. Yum. Um. I guess the flower buds looks like flies’ heads? Anyhow, in the spring I made it a couple of times with garlic chives leaves and scallions and last year’s chile peppers from the freezer.

Flip through the calendar pages and here we are in the middle of August (how can that be?). Despite the heat and drought, the garlic chives are sprouting fresh new leaves and lots and lots of flower buds. Last night I revisited the recipe, this time using flower buds, flower scapes, fresh leaves and fresh ripe chiles.

Garlic Chives and Fresh Ripe Chile Peppers

Garlic Chives and Fresh Ripe Chile Peppers

In all my years of growing garlic chives, I never tasted the flowers and flower stalks until yesterday. I read something about them that surprised me and I didn’t really believe it until I tasted them for myself, but the flower stalks are slightly sweet. The same taste as garlic chives leaves, but sweeter.

I’d like to try the Thai recipe in the link in the previous paragraph but don’t have enough garlic chives buds right now to do it.  Maybe a few extra garlic chives plants would be a good thing. Instead of cursing their tendency to self-sow, perhaps I should be celebrating it.

PS. There is at least one variety bred specifically for flower production. I wonder which species that is. The garlic chives in my garden were supposed to be another species (Allium ramosum) which flowers in June and doesn’t spread. However, the plants turned out to be the more common garlic chives (Allium tuberosum) which blooms in August here.

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