Saturday, August 30, 2014

Garlic chives, a bountiful evergreen crop

The evergreen garlic chives supplies plenty of fresh greens all year. At the top of the photo on the left, you can see how big the spaghetti squash plants are that I talked about last time and the okra just is going nuts. We are harvesting several each day, which is a good thing...
Harvest with a sharp knife or scissors with a cut near the soil level.

Garlic chives!

A few years back when researching crops for Organic Methods for Vegetable Gardening in Florida, I bought some garlic chives seeds (Allium tuberosum) and planted them next to my meadow garlic bed. (2 perennial crops together makes sense when everything else in my edible beds is changed up several times a year.) At first I was disappointed that only 3 or 4 seeds sprouted, but now I don't know what I'd do with any more. It's been amazing. We can use it all year long.


We use it in soups, salads, stir fries, dips, pestos, and more.  The other day I needed a pesto, but most of my lime basil* had been harvested, so I made up the difference with 7 or 8 bunches of garlic chives. It turned out very well. My recipe for pesto is in the Organic Methods book, it is more of a pesto sauce that's ready to use than the standard pestos. (*The lime basil seems to last better in our summers than the standard sweet basil and its citrusy flavor works well for our recipes.)

While the common name, garlic chives, is descriptive of the onion/garlic taste, this is on the garlic side of the genus with its flat leaves. Chives is on the onion side and its leaves are hollow. I grow chives as well and we love the subtle flavor, but chives does not take to cooking at all. It's always good to have some choices.

I cut off whole sections to use. There's plenty for us throughout the year.

I planted some of my cool-weather crops the other day after several mornings with temperatures well below 70 degrees. It's probably a little early, but I'm anxious to see how these rainbow carrots do. Very cute packaging, but will the carrots live up to their wrapper?

Predators in the yard!

So I was out back working to clear some encroaching vegetation from the path and caught a movement out of the corner of my eye into this mound of sand at the edge of the lawn area. Of course I had my camera in my pocket, so I hunkered down with my camera ready to shoot whatever emerged from the hole. It was not surprising that it was a huge cicada killer when you look at the size of her sand mound.

There were several nests lined up along the edge of the lawn out back. To host these beneficial insects in your landscape, use no landscape-wide insecticide of any kind and leave some of your property unplanted and unmulched. For more information on cicada killers see this post from IFAS

A cicada killer female emerges from her expansive underground nest.
The volume of soil removed for the nest is amazing. See the runway across the top of the mound just above the tips of my fingers. Nests can be up to 4' long with 16 cells—one for each egg/larva.
And while we are talking about wasps...
Paper wasps are also effective predators in the landscape, but their nests are well above the ground. This nest hangs on a dog fennel stem in a vacant lot across the street.

As seen in Clay Today...

My fungus article for Clay Today's Oakleaf Magazine is on page 23.

Sunrise at Jacksonville Beach the other day. I loved the reddish sunlight on the sea oats.

A Florida moon shot... 2 flyers. As I was snapping a shot of this heron, a mullet jumped just at the right time. :-)

I hope you're ready for your cool weather crops and I strongly urge you to try some garlic chives so you can always have something fresh from the garden for your salads, pestos, and stir fries.

Happy Labor Day and I hope that any labor your are doing for the holiday is in the garden.

Green Gardening Matters,
Ginny Stibolt

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