We wanted to take some time each month to feature a plant and this month, I’d like to take some time to talk a little about chives.
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Chives are a perennial herb (which means it returns every year) and is hardy in most climates. These chives in the picture above have survived plummeting winter temperatures and snow here in Utah as well as scorching hot summers.
Chives are a member of the onion family or Liliaceae family for those of you with a flare for Latin. Unlike yellow or red onions where the bulb is eaten, with chives it is the grass-like leaves which are eaten. Both onions and chives have globe-like flower heads which draw beneficial insects like bees and butterflies into the garden.
To harvest, simply snip the leaves. The plant will recover as long as you don’t cut back further than 2 inches from the ground.
Chives prefer a good soil with plenty of hummus/organic matter incorporated into it. They like a warm shady position in the garden and grow well in containers both indoors and outside.
Chives can be grown easily from seed or from small plants purchased from a local nursery. Once the clumps get large you can divide them up into smaller clumps and grow those somewhere else or pot one up to grow indoors during winter to supply you with fresh herbs. Plant seedlings of divided clumps in spring or early summer to allow them to thoroughly establish themselves before winter.
Chives have a delicate onion flavor which complements salads or eggs, You can also add them to soups, stews or casseroles. The flower heads make a colorful addition to salads especially when teamed with other edible flowers. They can also be added to vinegar when pickling or canning or to oil to add a subtle flavor for dressings.
This year we will be growing the garlic variety as well as the established plants. The garlic chives have pretty white flowers whilst the onion chives have purple heads.
For a recipe using chive flowers see: How To Make Pickled Garlic With Chives.
For those of you interested in biodynamic or growing by the moon techniques, chives are a leaf plant and should be sown, cultivated, harvested and hoed/weeded on leaf days when the moon lies in water signs of the zodiac.
Chives can be planted as part of a companion planting scheme in a garden and can help deter carrot fly and attack on tomatoes or strawberries if planted nearby. Avoid planting chives near beans, peas, chives, onion and garlic.
These herbs don’t take up much room in the garden and can be harvested again and again throughout the growing season to add an oniony kick to salad, sour cream, dips, baked potatoes, scrambled eggs and more.
If you have any gardening tips please share them in the comments or the Misfit Gardening Community Forum, we would love you hear your ideas and tips.