There’s garlic (Allium sativum) and there are chives (A. schoenoprasum)—and then there are garlic chives (A. tuberosum, also called Chinese chives). This week, these are brightening my garden with pretty globes of starry white flowers, dearly loved by the bees. All year long, I snip the flat, narrow green leaves into salads, omelets, soups, stirfrys, and even mashed potatoes, where they add color and a subtle garlic taste. The tender young leaves are best to cook with, so I shear the entire clump back to the ground every three or four weeks, to make sure that the leaves don’t get tough and bitter. You can dry the snipped leaves for winter-time use, or pop them into small plastic bags and freeze them--if you have chickens, they'll love them!
Now, about those tiny black seeds that will inevitably be produced by those pretty white flowers. You can collect them by tapping the drying seed head onto a plate, then sprout the seeds for spicy salad sprouts. Or you can clip the seed heads while they’re still flowering, dry them in paper bags, shake out the seeds, and add the pretty heads to your herbal wreaths. Or you can let nature do its thing, in which case you will have more garlic chives than you know what to do with. (Of course, they do make lovely passalong plants.) In cold regions, they’ll die back to the ground and pop up again in the spring.
Chinese herbalists use garlic chives to stimulate the appetite, improve digestion, and fight fatigue. All of the alliums (garlic, onions, shallots, chives, leeks) have been used for centuries for a variety of medicinal purposes. Garlic, the most important of these, has a long history of folk use. The juice has been used to treat open wounds and a wide range of ailments, such as ringworm, Candida, and vaginitis, where its fungicidal, antiseptic, tonic and parasitical properties may be beneficial. Research suggests that garlic can help prevent heart disease (including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and atherosclerosis) and regulate blood sugar levels.
Book report. Making forward progress (and learning a lot about Queen Anne's lace) on the 2018 China Bayles mystery. Also planning the publication process for The General's Women, my World War 2 historical about Eisenhower, Kay Summersby (his driver), and Mamie. The book is coming via my imprint, Persevero Press in March 2017. The manuscript is finished. Next steps: copyedit, cover, formatting for print/ebook, uploading, marketing. I absolutely love this process. The technology is changing so fast that there's always something new to learn. I'll let you know when the book available for pre-ordering, so you can tell your librarian.
Reading note. Publishing a book is like stuffing a note into a bottle and hurling it into the sea. Some bottles drown, some come safe to land, where the notes are read and then possibly cherished, or else misinterpreted, or else understood all too well by those who hate the message. You never know who your readers might be.--Margaret Atwood