Major Snow: Garlic chives sprout

June 20th, 2012
by Jo Law

We spent the majority of the last pentad in Canberra. We arrived in the capital city on the afternoon of Saturday June 16th when the lowest monthly maximum to-date of 9.3ºC was recorded. After our return to Austinmer, the overnight minimum fell to -6.3ºC on the morning of Wednesday June 20th. Having visited Canberra in previous winters, we felt prepared having packed our various layers of merino thermal wear. Even so, for those of us unused to inland winters, the cold was unforgiving.

The drive to Nursery Swamp on the mountains southwest of the territory showed us a landscape made up of different shades of pale browns and yellows. Peter, our local guide told us that the darker brown in and amongst the grasses was dried up St.John’s Warts. He also pointed out the three wild apple trees by the side of the road that supplied some very delicious apples in past years. Cattle and sheep dotted the fields. No crops were observed.

The winter grain crops have long been planted around the country but we have only just managed to clear out the remnant of our summer vegetables. The garlic heads, having stored in the fridge and divided into cloves, are yet to be planted. The ones that have been exposed to light waited no more and sprouted in situ. With winter solstice approaching, we are running out of time to put them in the soil. While we are yet to have a definite success with garlic growing, the cheerfully green garlic chives (Allium tuberosum) grow prolifically under the ginger plants.

Related to onions, garlic chives is a popular culinary herb used in Chinese, Korean, and Japanese cooking. In terms of Chinese medicinal use, it is said to be warming, de-toxifying and promote the circulation of qi. It is used to treat problems ranging from haemorrhage to diabetes, from injuries from falls to insects bites. Extracted juice from the leaves can be drunk, cooked, or applied to injured areas. It can even be used in washing or ironing to take advantage of its anti-fungal properties.

2 Responses to “Major Snow: Garlic chives sprout”

  1. 1 Mike
    July 6th, 2012 at 07:06

    I need tips about growing garlic – it seems they like cold weather. Maybe this year will be good….? Greetings from Paris, which is having a kind of summer, much better than London where it was colder than Sydney; in mid-summer!

  2. 2 Jo Law
    July 11th, 2012 at 09:33

    Garlic needs chill or frost to stimulate growth at the start. If chill or frost is not part of your climate, you can put the garlic bulbs in the fridge for about a month before planting to emulate the cold. What I gather about garlic is that it’s all in the planting: plant before the winter solstice and harvest after the summer solstice. Another tip is to choose the right variety for your climate: that is hard-neck or soft-neck. These varieties have their own preferences particularly when it comes to humidity.

    Having said of that I am afraid I have never had much success with garlic and I think this year’s crop is not going to be great either on account of we planted them too late.