Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Allium | Onion Family

A genus of strong smelling bulbous herbs of the Lily Family (including onions, leeks, chives, ands their relatives). Some 300 species are known in north temperate regions, and about 70 of these are cultivated, all in open ground, mostly as vegetables, but a few as ornaments. A few species of Asian origin are treated as greenhouse plants. The hardy varieties have flat or tubular leaves with tapering tips and flowers at the end of erect bare stems in speherical clusters or slender spikes, the colors ranging from white to yellow, and through pinks to purple. Alliums require a rich loamy soil. They can be grown from seeds, offsets, or small aerial bulbets in the flower heads.

A perennial, hardy species of onion (Allium schanoprasum), whose small, slender, hollow leaves chopped  fine, are used for flavoring salads, stews and soups. As with other herbs use your imagination: top a baked potato, stir into scrambled eggs,  mix some with softened butter or cream cheese.

Chives are fairly easy to grow anywhere.   You can grow a pot on your kitchen table or counter or you can grow them in your yard or garden - or both.  Garlic or Chinese chives (Allium tuberosum) are also easy to grow.

Chives are small onion like plants which grow in clumps.  Chives have purple edible flowers, rounded leaves, and a light onion flavor.  Garlic chives have white edible flowers, triangular shaped leaves, and a garlic flavor.  If using chive flowers harvest just after they open.  The flowers will separate into small pieces (florets) which can be scattered into salads for an attractive appearance and a chive (or garlic chive) flavor.

Both types of chives can be started from seed, purchased as a plant, or divided from an existing plant.  When starting from seed plant many seeds together since each seed will grow to be one plant.  At first they will look like tiny grass plants but as they grow the stems will thicken and they will be more obviously chives.  Chives can be harvested when the leaves are just a few inches tall.  Since you probably won't have many at first you can still cut them (leaving 1/2 - 1" for regrowth) and throw them in a salad.
To divide chives just cut into the bunch with a trowel or spade.  Dig up the portion you want and plant in another location or into a pot filled with good quality potting soil. The pot need not be much larger than the clump you are planting.

If moving indoors to or in a pot your chives will do better if exposed to the first light frost first - then move indoors.

Chinese Chives, Buchu (Allium tuberosum

Garlic (Allium sativum)
Green onions
They are  hardy throughout the year including the winter months. What a wonderful garnish to any steaming soup or fresh salad. Alliums require a rich loamy soil.
Leeks (Allium ampeloprasum)  
Onion (Allium cepa)
Shallots (Allium cepa var. aggregatum)
Scallions (Allium fistulosum L)


Drumstick Onion
Allium sphaerocephalum

Allium aflatunenense
Allium - Purple Sensation Ladies' Mantle (Alchemilla).
Allium atropurpureum
Allium caeruleum
Allium cristophii
Elephant garlic (Allium ampeloprasum),
Babbington's Leek (Allium ampeloprasum var. babbingtonii),
Blue Chives (Allium nutans)

Potato Leek Soup
2 large         Leeks, white and green; split lengthwise, wash well, and chopped
1 Tbsp         Butter
1 1/2 cups   Water
1 cup            Chicken broth
1 lb               Boiling potatoes
2 Tbsp         Parsley, fresh minced

1. In a large heavy saucepan cook the leeks in the butter with salt and pepper to taste, covered, over     moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they are softened but not browned.
2. Add the water, the broth, and the potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice, and simmer the mixture, covered, for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.

3. In a blender purée 1 cup of the soup, stir the puré into the remaining soup with the parsley, and season the soup with salt and pepper.

Amaryllis family Amaryllidaceae