Spring Alliums

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One of the many reasons that I love green garlic and green alliums generally is that they are among the earliest things to come out of the garden, assuming that you planted in early fall. I have plenty of summer veggies in my freezer, but as the days start to lengthen I get ravenously keen for the first real, fresh greens, and by mid-February I’m eating out of the garden again.

For early green alliums, plant some in a block that you can cover with Agribon or other frost blanket material. I like to put a short row of my regular yellow storage onions in this block in September, and each will divide and make four or five superbly sweet green onions in early spring.

Garlic is another must, and my favorite for early green garlic is Chinese Pink, because it is super-early and is eight inches tall and half an inch in diameter by mid-February if frost protection is used. Plant your early block with the cloves about three inches apart each way. When I’m ready for green garlic I pull alternate stalks, and leave the rest 6″ apart to mature for my earliest garlic bulb harvest.

In the case of leeks, there isn’t even any need to replant in fall. Plant extra in spring, cover with frost blanket in late fall, and they will winter over nicely for February eating.

Contrary to much popular advice, I don’t suggest that you even think about cutting the green leaves off and discarding them. They are delicious. They are also the healthiest part of the plant, full of the antioxidant allicin which has multiple health benefits. Do cut them in fine cross-sections, about a quarter inch long, to  eliminate  any possible stringiness  in the leaves.

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I love a good assortment of green alliums chopped up and sautéed in butter with salt to taste until they are succulent and sweet. Keep the heat medium-low and let them cook at least twenty minutes for best flavor. I eat them as a side dish, but they would also be great on slices of crisp baguette, in an omelette, over scrambled eggs or rice,  on a broiled fish fillet, or nearly any other way that you can imagine.

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Two years ago I stuck some garlic cloves in a flower bed planning to harvest them for green garlic, but forgot all about them in spring. After two growing seasons they’ve divided so much that the leaves are as fine as grass. I’ve started harvesting the tops and chopping them finely to use as a fresh seasoning. They have a stronger but cleaner flavor than garlic chives. I love them over egg salad, green salad, broiled or grilled meats, on soup, or anywhere that you might crave a hit of freshness and garlic. They give some distinction to a regular or low-carb pizza.

4 responses to this post.

  1. I never knew that about leeks- thank you!!!

    Reply

    • Posted by wooddogs3 on February 20, 2017 at 7:58 pm

      Leek varieties vary a lot in hardiness, but here in New Mexico they will all winter over if they have the protection of a frost blanket and are given plenty of moisture. I would imagine that it would be much the same in Portland.

      Reply

      • Oops I should have been more specific – I have grown them but never knew about using the green parts! 🙂

      • Posted by wooddogs3 on February 21, 2017 at 11:24 am

        Sorry, misunderstood. Yes, I think the leaves on the winter and early spring plants are very delicious when cooked, or even raw if they are young and fresh and sliced finely. They are also stuffed with allicin and quercetin, if those things matter to you. These are the antioxidants that are supposed to account for garlic’s health benefits, but in fact they are mostly found in the skin of mature garlic and not in the cloves that we use. But the green leaves are loaded with them.
        By the way, I saw in a post on your blog that you were interested in a good sourdough starter. Are you still looking for one?

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