If there’s one herb that I’d recommend for anyone completely new to gardening to plant, it’s chives. These herbaceous perennials require very little effort to grow. They’re hardy, pretty, and yummy too!
Today, we’ll be talking about how chives A-Z from seed to harvest. Let’s get to it!
Fast Facts About Chives
Chives, also called Allium schoenoprasum, are members of the onion family and are native to Europe. They have deep green, round, hollow leaves yet they have large, globe-shaped, pink or purple flowers. These plants can grow up to 2 feet if left untouched.
They bloom from mid-spring to early summer and will happily grow in temperatures ranging from 40° to 85°F. They are evergreen in mild-winter regions but die back and go dormant in cold-winter regions.
How to Plant Chives
Chives can be started indoors four to six weeks before the last frost. Once they reach about two inches tall, you can transplant them in your container garden or in the backyard. You can plant chive seedlings once the temperature hits 65°F.
Chives aren’t picky when it comes to planting sites. You can place them practically anywhere in your garden. Just make sure that the soil is fertile and well-draining and they receive full sun.
You can also plant them in containers and grow them indoors. Just make sure to place the pots in a sunny windowsill or a place where they can receive six hours of sunshine every day.
Chives thrive in moist soil so make sure to water them frequently. As long as there is proper soil drainage and you don’t overwater them, they’ll be safe from waterlogging.
In terms of spacing, remember that chives can grow more than a foot tall and a foot across. If you’ll be planting them near each other, give them at least six inches of space in between.
Growing and Caring Tips
The best thing about chives is you don’t have to babysit them. As long as you have the right soil conditions and they receive the right amount of sunlight every day, you’re golden.
They’re resistant to many pests and diseases. You can even use them as a companion plant to repel carrot flies and aphids!
The only thing you need to remember is to keep them watered properly especially in drier months.
When harvesting chives, all you need is a pair of garden shears and a six-inch tall chive plant. For the leaves, cut one to two inches of the leaves above the soil and from the outer portion of the plant. Just make sure not to cut the entire plant all at once. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait until the next year for it to grow back again.
Apart from the leaves, you can also harvest chive blossoms. Simply clip the flowers at the base of their stem. The best time to harvest chives flowers is between May and June.
Saving Chive Seeds
If you’d like to start your next batch of chives from seeds, you can collect the seeds from spent flowers. Simply allow the flower heads to dry out.
Once you see black spots inside the flower heads, you can shake them over a container. Or, you can clip the flower heads off, place them inside a paper bag, seal and shake to release the seeds from the flower heads. Let the seeds dry out completely before storing them in seed envelopes.
It’s worth noting that chives are self-sowing plants. You can just let the flowers go to seed and let them do the work for you if you don’t mind them spreading.
Uses for Chives
Chives are best used fresh and raw to retain their flavor. Their mild onion flavor has a slight hint of garlic.
They’re best added to baked potatoes, mixed vegetables, egg dishes, salads and dressings, broiled poultry, stews, casseroles, and baked fish. You can also mix them in butter or cream cheese to spread on toast or crackers.
Chive flowers can also be eaten. They can be added to vegetable salads or infused in vinegar for an interesting condiment.
Chive plants also have a lot of uses in the garden. With their lovely pink and purple blooms, they can add dainty pop of color to your garden.
They can also attract pollinators like bees that help your garden thrive. Chive plants can also be placed in rock gardens to prevent soil erosion.
This versatile herb is a must have in any garden. Do you grow chives? Share your experience in the comments below.
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