I hate garlic chives. Love them to eat, but hate them in my garden. Alternate title? That time my garden became overwhelmed by garlic chives.
I hate garlic chives.
There. I said it.
Let me clarify . . .
I love to eat garlic chives, love the taste, love the scent.
But garlic chives in the garden? Big mistake. Big. Huge.
How garlic chives ended up in our backyard
Way back when we first started on our backyard, we had the idea — having lived in cities our entire adult lives thus far — that we would become farmers in our backyard. (Slight sarcasm here.)
We ordered three raised beds made of cedar planks and filled them with excellent mushroom soil and lots of healthy vegetables. We thought it would be fun to have a section of herbs too, including garlic chives.
So. Fast forward a few years and the raised beds became infested with termites, so we dismantled those beds and created a large vegetable bed in another part of our backyard.
(You can read about the saga here: How to build a raised vegetable bed.)
Oh — and when we began our new vegetable bed, we did not include garlic chives.
My fault for being blinded by beauty
I might be leaving out the part where we didn’t use all of those herbs as fast as necessary, so some of them went to flower… which then went to seed… which resulted in a never-ending supply of garlic chive plants popping up ALL over our backyard.
Garlic chives are everywhere.
They even pop up randomly in the middle of our gravel backyard:
I spent one hour yesterday — one hour — just removing garlic chive plants from this little section of our backyard patio beds:
Looks nice and clean, except when I allow myself — head hanging in gardener shame — to share a photo of what it looks like to the left of this clean section:
When I wrote my article about Helene Rose of Sharon, I spent time pulling out as many garlic chives as I could, before I began just ripping off the stems and hiding the remains with river rocks.
But I can’t hide it any longer. The gardener guilt is too great.
Next to the Helene Rose of Sharon is a Color Guard Yucca, which we rescued from drowning in a wet spot in the front gardens.
This Yucca is doing its best to make a comeback, and I am showing it total disrespect by having all these garlic chives around it.
Make it stop!!
Unsee! Unsee! Make my eyes and brain “unsee” this madness!!
I’m determined to rid our backyard of garlic chives.
I don’t care that their flowers are so pretty, almost looking like Queen Anne’s Lace.
Actually, I can’t allow myself to care anymore. I used to succumb to their beauty and leave them be. Such a pretty and wild-looking effect here and there in bloom. My bad.
Beauty be damned!
Me versus garlic chives, Part One
Yesterday began my intense project, which I will do until it gets too cold to be outdoors for any length of time.
The problem with these garlic chives around our patio beds? There is landscape fabric underneath all of these large river rocks. The weeds have grown underneath and on top of the fabric through little holes and those roots are everywhere.
They even grow along the edges, those sneaky little $(*#@!!
This is partly what makes me hate landscape fabric. Yes, it serves a purpose, but after awhile some weed is still going to pop up through the fabric, and if you have this fabric around your garden plants, it isn’t so easy to eradicate the offending weeds.
My hands are killing me today, because even though I wore my favorite gardening gloves, moving those rocks around wasn’t easy.
I wasn’t moving the rocks calmly either. I was frustrated and hot and sweaty, and was tossing them around like I was much stronger than I actually am.
Also, I had already been outside gardening for awhile and it was only when I was passing by this area — putting tools away into the shed — that I looked over at our Helene Rose of Sharon and saw what a mess these damn garlic chive plants are.
I sort of lost it, muttering to myself as I bent a finger nail backwards picking up the river rocks. My nails are already short so this hurt.
And when I pulled on a plant and the stems came off in my gloves while the roots stayed in the ground? Oh I went nuts! I grabbed my dandelion digger and worked on those damn roots until they agreed to surrender.
So. Garlic Chives. Who knew this was on my Fall gardening chores list?
Beauty be damned!
Carla from Kansas
Maybe one of those fire things to kill them off. Or 30% vinegar…
Hmmm… a “fire thing” makes me imagine myself holding a giant fire blow torch and setting my entire garden up in flames, which would probably be funny and horribly tragic at the same time! LOL. But I am looking into some organic ways to kill off the chives without damaging the plants I want to keep. Crazy times!
I have a pinky Winky hydregna it bloom but the bloom never totally open. Maybe 10 flowers on each and then rest buds. What can I do ?
Is your Pinky Winky Hydrangea in full sun? They do best in full sun, so perhaps that is why the buds didn’t fully open? Also, please see my Pinky Winky Hydrangea guide for the many pictures: if you look closely you will see there are two different types of flowers on each of the large cone-shaped flower heads. Some open fully like flowers while others stay very tiny. Maybe that is what you’re seeing? At this point in the season — here in the US it is almost Fall — it’s time to let the hydrangeas continue as is. No need to any fertilizer until the Spring. Without knowing your location or where the plant is sited, my best suggestion is to wait and see how they do next year. In the meantime, talk to a local nursery garden expert at an area nursery and see what they can suggest for your specific location.
I feel your pain. When I moved into my house 19+ years ago friends gave me plants from their yards to get my beds started. A friend gave me some garlic chives from her yard. I rue the day I planted them. The first couple of years I didn’t pay too much attention to them because of the pretty late summer flowers. By the third year I had them all over!! I have been digging them up for years!! I hate them!! I went to a talk today about cover crops. I’m going to try planting a cover crop over them in the spring as they idea behind that is that the cover crop will crowd out weeds, etc. Then I can reclaim that area of the garden. I see garlic chives at greenhouses and I tell the workers they should be selling them. I think they should be put on the invasive plant list just like garlic mustard and many others. Thanks for reading my comments. Down with garlic chives!
Oh Joan you sound like you’re describing me when I see garlic chives for sale each year! I was hoping during this Winter season that they would at least die off with the freezing weather. Well surprise, surprise, we have had unusually warm weather so far this season including 64 degrees yesterday. And it’s only early February! So naturally more seem to be popping up even now. They’re taunting me. Sigh. Let me know how the cover crop idea works, as it sounds like a good plan!
Oh my goodness! This is ME! We bought our dream home 5 years ago and marveled at the unusual and HUGE garden just off the deck in full sun. Cilantro, Garlic Chives and tomatoes were growing there. I was so excited at the prospect. But when we tried to use the garlic chives, they were bitter and far too plentiful. The next year they were growing all around the paved perimeters of the garden and they were next to impossible to pull. Despite covering everything with a black tarp for the entire winter, hundreds of brand new plants came up in the spring, standing like defiant green armies all around the pavers, poking up through the weed barrier and even through the tarp! New plants appeared between the flagstones on the path around the garden. The pungent smell was a constant reminder of my foolish enthusiasm at first sight. 🙁 My husband tried whacking them down and even mowing them. LOL The smell permeated every corner of my house!
We even tried a vegetation killer, but I don’t want to use it again. So now what? I’m too old to get on my hands and knees digging. So I approach Spring with an odd mix of excitement and loathing. Haha. Help!
And I so wish that I had some help to offer you! Just yesterday (mid-March already), I was outside using a dandelion digger and attempting to get at the roots of some of these plants that are already showing up. The ones stuck in between some of our edging are the worst to try and get out. I made a tiny bit of progress, as long as I don’t look beyond that little area. (Even showed my husband my happy little chives-free area…and when he began to look beyond it, I told him to stop! Haha!)
Every part of your story has been my pain for ten years now. They got so bad that they have killed of three shrubs and a redbud tree! I’m at my wits end with them and have a organic garden so using a kill all goes against all of my beliefs. I can’t seem to find anything about them killing off well established shrubs… have you?
Also I agree that I would not give this plant to even someone i disliked! And I believe morning glory seeds should be never aloud to be sold! That’s another nemesis of mine! 😊
Wow Susan — garlic chives killed off three shrubs AND a redbud tree??? No, I’ve never heard of anything like that! Yes, it seems like I’m forever digging them up by hand — one by one — and sometimes when I don’t get the bulb coming out with the rest of the plant….oh I practically cry! About Morning Glory — I’ve heard over and over again from gardeners how invasive this vine is…and when I grew it, I couldn’t get it to grow as well as I wanted, so I had to give up. I love the flowers on it, but for some reason, it didn’t love me back. And from what you’re saying as well as others: maybe that’s a good thing! 😊