Garlic Chives Hum

People wonder why I have such a large patch of garlic chives. It’s about six by ten feet. The answer comes when the garlic chives hum.

Unlike regular chives with found leaves and oniony taste, garlic chives have flat leaves and a peppery taste. They are great in scrambled eggs, stir fries, cheese sauce, salads and more.

wasps make garlic chives hum
Several kinds of wasps visit the garlic chives. These have two white bands. Another has a red abdomen. Another has a red band. They climb over one umbel and move to the next one.

Still, I do have a much larger patch than I really need. Even with the goats helping, I have more than I can use.

So why not shrink the patch?

In mid August my garlic chives hum. I can hear them as soon as I enter the garden.

moths on garlic chives
Moths usually come out at night. These thought the garlic chives too good to miss. The usual butterfly crowd includes buckeyes, 8 spot grape, dusky skipper, skippers, occasional monarchs, fritillaries and swallowtails.

All right, plants can’t really hum. The patch can.

The patch is a field of white flowers. Bees, wasps, beetles, bumblebees, butterflies, moths add the hum. The flowers seem to shimmer with movement as the insects move from umbel to umbel.

The types of insects stays much the same from year to year. The numbers of each type changes. Their single minded activity remains the same as I can walk beside the patch touching flowers and not disturb them at all.

honeybees make the garlic chives hum
Almost 30 years ago a beekeeper abandoned two hives. The bees moved out into the wild. They still live somewhere in the area. The garlic chives were a magnet for them this year.

Although the garlic chive flowers are the focus of the activity, the insects do spread out across the garden. The tomatoes, okra, peppers and squash appreciate being pollinated too.

My garlic chives hum with frantic activity for about two weeks. Then the flowers are slowly replaced with seed heads.

My patch is large enough. These plants spread aggressively both by seeds and by shoots.

bumblebees make garlic chives hum
At least three different kinds of bumblebees live in the area. All come to gather nectar at the garlic chives.

When the seed heads make up most of the umbels, it is time to slow down the inexorable spread. The pruners cut down the seed heads as far into the patch as I can reach. These are tossed into the middle where new plants can muscle in.

New leaves grow up for use in the kitchen until killing frost puts the plants to bed for the winter. But next year I will hear my garlic chives hum once again.