The Allium Family loves winter in Blackheath … onions, garlics, leeks, chives and shallots!

The Allium Family LOVES winter in Blackheath. While Allium is Latin for garlic, this plant family also contains all the leeks, onions, garlics, chives, scallions and shallots. If you haven’t already done so, now’s the time to plant your seeds or bulbs. Here are some of my onion seedlings emerging now.

 

 

It’s also the time to go looking for seeds if you don’t have any because some alliums are working hard at reproducing themselves at the moment!

 

Garlic chives

 

At Blackheath Community Farm we harvested garlic chive seeds last Sunday and our leeks were so keen to multiply that they’ve germinated on the plant! All we need to do now is separate them and plant them out.

 

Leek

 

In order to spread their seed further afield and to not compete, alliums produce long stalks for their flower heads and these then drop down in Autumn, a foot or more away from the original plant. Clever!

Unfortunately, where our leeks have dropped is where we’ve now planted broadbeans, so we’ll need to transplant the leeks into another bed. They’re not meant to be great companion plants for peas and beans.

Alliums do, however, grow well with beets, carrots and lettuces.

 

 

Autumn is also a good time to divide up chives if you’d like more of them. We have the most beautiful chive border in our original Allium bed which flowers profusely in summer. These flowers are delicious in salads.

 

 

Chive borders create beautiful patterns and colour in your garden, are a great way to attract bees, and stop soil eroding out of garden beds. By dividing chives up you prevent them overcrowding and increase the amount you’re able to grow.

It may be a long wait over winter but they’ll be working hard underground to reward you in spring and summer.

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