Category Archives: Allium/Bulbs

Garlic Chive Use for Dummies (like me)

With all the digging, splitting, re-potting ….
how can I not have some in hand for a hurried, no planning, throw any(every)thing in, to prepare a 1-plate dish for lunch.

*Main ingredient can be leftover rice, cooked al-dente pasta, blanched wheat noodles, whatever you fancy.

Ingredients – Lot 1

GARLIC CHIVES cut in 2″ length, Eggs, Bean Sprouts, oops! some diced onions not in pic ~ already in the pan…

Ingredient – Lot 2
Sliced beef, pork, chicken, leftover favorite meat, vegetarian soy, anything … I found some shrimps in my freezer.

Peeled shrimps I found in the freezer.

Then with further fridge browsing, I found and used some homemade Sambal but you can use any of your favorite sauce, seasoning, paste, etc.

Heat some oil in the pan, add Lot 1 + diced onions in (er… crack the eggs please, do not include shells in this dish) and pan-stir till sizzling. Then add Lot 2. When semi-cooked (shrimps begin to turn a little pink & opaque), add your favorite sauce or seasoning.

Pan stir till well mixed.

Finally, add your *Main Ingredient … I used pre-soaked Rice Vermicelli or Bee Hoon which is a staple in my pantry. Thoroughly mix; sprinkle some water if necessary and Voilà!!

Fried Bee Hoon

Lunch is served.


What exactly are Garlic Chives (韭菜) a.k.a Chinese Chives?

Garlic Chives are chives that have garlic-like flavor but are not really garlic.  The “bulbs” are not bulb-looking like onions/garlic and they are (urgh!) rough, fibrous and not at all appetizing. I would not term them as edible.

Rhizomes with massive roots.

These so-called “bulbs” are actually part of thick sturdy rhizomes that are their root form. To actually retrieve them from the soil takes quite a bit of slow deep digging as those roots, growing downwards are almost equal in length to their green leaves that grow upwards.

Some divided rhizomes with fibrous lumps that do not look like garlic at all.

I decided to continue my Split-&-Spread mission (just like my Sand Ginger) except they will temporarily be in pots to adjust and adapt to new soil and conditions … then be planted amongst tomatoes and eggplants, keeping them company, repelling pests that dislike the garlic “stench”. Heck, it might even repel people who dislike the garlic fetor!

Looking kind of miserable in individual pots at present.

Soon there will be little bunches, and though grown as companion plants, they will still be trimmed to be used in my kitchen.

Just for information:  Garlic lovers dating garlic haters, you can eat this in cooked dishes like omelets, stir-fries, pizzas, u-name-it … enjoy the garlicky aroma because you are safe! After a while your breath will not stink of garlic!

On the internet and in gardening stores, you can buy their seeds under the names Garlic Chives or Chinese Chives. Why do almost everyone call it Chinese Chives ~ everyone, except the Chinese? And why do the Chinese call it 韭菜 (pronounced jiǔ cài in Mandarin & ku-chai in the Hokien dialect) when word for word it translates to ‘Leek Vegetable’ … when it’s not even a Leek?  Go figure!!

Shallot Buds and Blooms

Almost everyone eats Onions … except some vegans and staunch Buddhists.
Every supermarket, wet-market, sundry store (as we call them in SE Asia) sells Onions ~ red onions, sweet white onions, yellow onions, bunching onions, etc.

But do consumers/gardeners bother growing onions? If they do, do they buy onion sets or seeds for each year’s planting? I’ve tried many ways of regrowing from store bought ones and nursery cultivated ones but they only reproduce for 1 season. As I do not have enough space all kinds of onions, I’ve concentrated on 2 which I really like and use often – Shallots and Walking Onions, encouraging them to reproduce themselves continuously.

An earlier post shows the seeds from the Shallot parents but this Spring I’ve decided to share some photos of Shallot buds and blooms which if one actually observes, goes through beautiful stages of Ma Nature’s work-of-art and creation.

Allow a few to live their 2-yr lifespan & buds will appear in the 2nd Spring.

Nicely packaged bunch of buds.

The 1st bloom (or the eldest child so to speak).

Each flower has 6 Petals and 6 Stamens with pollen covered Anthers.

Deep within each flower is a Locule with Ovaries

More flowers bloom each day.

Almost all in bloom awaiting Pollinators

A Pollinator caught in action!

Soon it will re-seed and re-produce ~ just like Ma Nature intended ~ continuing its species when given the chance to.


Rescue of my Walking Onions

Ah yes … further hurricane victims were discovered.
My poor Egyptian Walking Onions, once self-procreating and supplying me with small flavorful bulbs and greens, simply couldn’t walk (or even run) fast enough to avoid Hurricane Matthew. He must have mercilessly hammered them and I’ve been left with a flattened mini onion field.

Ok, all things happen for a reason, right? I’ll accept Ma Nature’s action, maybe she thought I had become complacent with my teeny-weeny onion field and they needed to be spread out and become onion fields in different spots. I salvaged as many bulbils as I could find and for now they will grow in “seed-pots”.

They’re just babies.  They can’t walk yet. I know they can survive winter chill but at this young age they will be pampered a little.

1 week old

1 week old

It’s been a week since they showed tiny green spots indicating that they were still alive. Even with perennials, I think a little bit of coddling sometimes does help.

They can't walk yet but ...

They can’t walk yet but …

They will not walk and spread themselves during the 1st year but like a toddler, come year 2 they will be ready to walk & spread themselves again. I will in turn make sure they are growing in “fields” located East, West and South of my little plot of land. It’s nice to have a forever supply.

Walking Onions

Do Walking Onions really walk?  I don’t know, but I do know that they propagate from babies ~ known as bulblets ~ and not seeds. I began growing them 3 years ago from 5 teeny weeny bulblets and now have a patch which some neighbors find quite “different”.

Little bulblets at the end of an onion leaf.

Little bulblets at the end of an onion leaf.

A bulblet growing from a bulblet.

A bulblet growing from a bulblet.

They are sometimes called Egyptian Walking Onions and Tree Onions ~ excellent in stir-fry dishes and not as pungent as shallots.

I leave the parent plants to grow and re-grow; replanting 30% of harvested bulblets in hope that 1 day I will have hundreds of parent plants among vegetables to deter and confuse pests with their odor.

Harvested bulblets

Harvested bulblets

These little ones, harvested today, will go into my vegetarian pasta dish as garnish/topping together with grated cheese.


Propagating Onions

My January experiment has shown positive results.  OK, it’s doable.
The sprouted onion piece given to me by my neighbor, which was used in the experiment, has convinced me that apart from my normal use of seeds from previous season, I should also keep part of bulbs (after cutting 90% for cooking) to replant.

Neighbor's sprouting onion

Neighbor’s sprouting onion given to me early Jan 2015

Today, I just feel it’s time to show the results:

New bulbs have grown

New bulbs have grown

4 whole new bullbs are growing

4 whole new bulbs are growing

The label says “Sweet Onions ~ Product of Peru”, so I will monitor & harvest when it reaches average size… then repeat the process of using most for cooking, but  allowing small pieces to partially sprout and then replant for more.




Last year, as an experiment, I decided when cutting onions, to leave 1/4″ of the lower bulb intact and all roots as they are. I then simply put them on the soil of my herb trough (roots down of course) to see what would happen to them.

They actually sprouted fresh roots into the soil! I put them back covering the roots with soil and they grew, but because of being uprooted, grew very slowly.

With the next few onions used, I decided to try leaving roots plus 2 layers of the bulb intact & replanted. They regrew and are now providing me with “spring onions” or onion-tops which I use in omelets, stir-frying, garnishing, etc.

Onions ~ born again!

Onions ~ born again!


I guess I have found a 2nd way of getting spring onions for the kitchen. I don’t buy them anymore. When needed, I select the thickest ones and just cut individual “leaves” 1-inch from the base, new “leaves” will appear from the old cut-up bulb again. So far I’ve learned they can continue growing in winter so I’m observing very carefully.

A neighbor gave a an onion she found in her refrigerator that had already sprouted so in it went into the onion patch.  That too has sprouted.onionbornagain I have always grown onions from seeds but this has got me wondering if I can cultivate them from splitting the initial root piece into 2 & then replanting. More experimenting needed.

Spring Onions

With no wet-markets around and supermarkets a couple of miles away, I grow my spring-onions on my kitchen window ledge with no soil, no mess and no pests. Image

An elderly Korean vegetable vendor taught me this as he grows them by the dozens to make kimchi ~ handy especially in winter.  Then when the bulb has thinned down and the roots are fully established, they can be planted in the veggie bed to produce seeds or regrow their bulb bulk.