Last week, the rabbits in my garden escaped from their new run. The rascals have eaten all my herbs, including the chives. I’m afraid I have lost most of my herbs, fortunately my chives are indestructible, and they are growing again 😊. See the photo here.
Chives are a perennial plant, known by the Latin name Allium Schoenoprasum. It’s quite resilient, if you cut off a leaf, it will grow back again and again.
Grow chives from seed
You can plant the seeds at the end of March or August. If you already have chives, it is easy to reproduce by tearing the bulb. Chives are hardy plants and can withstand the cold. In fact, the cold is even good for the germination of the seeds. Therefore, you can just plant the seeds in the open ground. When planting in the soil, try to sow in the right place immediately. Leek has fairly deep roots, and is therefore difficult to move without damaging the roots.
If you want to sow chives earlier, you can pre-sow them indoors in February. The germination period is quite long, so if after 3 weeks you see nothing, it is advisable to put the pots outside in the cold. The cold will break the germination rest allowing the seed to germinate. Use fresh seeds as they germinate the best. Seeds lose their ability to germinate after 1 or 2 years. Sow in airy potting soil. Spread the seeds over the surface of your pot and then cover the small black seeds with half a centimeter of potting soil.
Chives in the vegetable garden
Lettuce and chives are a good combination in the vegetable garden and on your plate. Carrots and tomatoes thrive near this herb. With its onion scent, the leek scares away critters that like to eat your crops. For example, the smell scares away carrot flies, which like to nibble on your carrots.
Chives plant care
Chives need sufficient moisture. When the leaves turn limp and yellow it often means a lack of moisture. This herb prefers a semi-shade location, but if you give it enough moisture it will do fine in a sunny spot as well.
How to harvest chives
Harvesting chives is very easy. You just cut off the required number of stalks, right before use. They are the tastiest when fresh. If you want to keep them for a few days, cut the stalks about a centimeter above the ground and wrap them in kitchen paper. Then put them in the fridge to keep them fresh as long as possible.
If the plant gets a bit hard and tough, you can rejuvenate it by cutting off all the stems about a centimeter above the soil. The plant will then sprout again within a few weeks with fresh young blades. In the first year after sowing, I advise you not to prune it too much, so that the plant can put its energy into developing a good root system.
Chives grow and flower for a long period of time and therefore could use some extra nutrients. You can add fertilizer in full soil as well as in a pot. You can use an organic fertilizer for this. Special vegetable garden fertilizer or even herb fertilizer are also available.
What to do with chives
Chives are mainly used in meals or as a garnish. If you let them bloom, they make a lovely decoration, for example, as a flowering border along the path to your vegetable garden.
Use in a meal
The young leaves are tasty and can be added to a dish. Chives are traditionally added because of their appetite-enhancing and digestive properties, and because of their supposedly diuretic effect. You cut the stems from the plant and then chop or cut them into small pieces. Because of the shape of the leaf, they become small round green rings.
You can dry or freeze chives, but it is best to use them fresh. Freezing or drying does cause it to lose some of its flavor. You can dry chives in the oven or in a special dehydrator.
Cut the herbs and wash them well under the tap. Then let them dry a bit on a towel. Remove the bad, yellowish stems. Cut the stalks into small pieces and spread them on your baking tray. Set your oven to 40 degrees and bake for about 2 to 3 hours. You can leave the oven open a little, or open it every now and then to let the moisture escape.
Store the dried chives in clean glass jars.
Can you freeze chives?
You can keep leek for a long time if you freeze it. If you freeze them into ice cubes, they will keep even longer and are even tastier. Cut the stems from the plant and process it immediately. Start with washing them and next cut them in your preferred shape. Blanch the green parts for 20 to 30 seconds by placing them in a pan of boiling water. In order to remove them easily, it is a good idea to place them in a sieve in the pan when blanching.
You can either leave them to dry for a while and then freeze them as is or put them into an ice tray and fill it up with water. It will keep for over a year in the freezer.
How do they taste?
The plants origin is China, but today it is also cultivated in Europe and America. Onions, leeks and garlic are related to chives. The taste is a refined onion flavor. It is an easily obtainable and versatile herb. You can use it, for example, in spreads for bread, in salads, in oven dishes, with potatoes or in an omelet.
Are chives healthy?
Yes, it is healthy; it is full of vitamins A, C and antioxidants. It improves appetite and digestion, drains fluid and helps prevent bacteria. It is also good for the circulatory system and for high blood pressure.
Are chive flowers edible?
Chives bloom in June and July with pinkish purple round flowers. The flowers are beautiful to look at and lovely as a garnish on your plate. They are also suitable for eating. Once a flower appears on a sprig, the sprig is no longer very tasty and it becomes hard and tough. It is therefore preferable to use fresh young sprigs.
Want to read more about edible flowers? Read the article Trendy, delicious, edible flowers.
Both the leaves and flowers can be used as an addition to your bouquet or dried bouquet.
Allium Tuberosum is the Latin name. It has a grassy flat leaf. This leaf is somewhat coarser and broader than that of the common chive. It tastes like a mild form of garlic and makes a good substitute for it. Another name for the Chinese variety is garlic chives.
Allium Fistulosum (var. Giganteum) is a more popular vegetable than an onion in China and Japan. This perennial is a lot bigger than the common chive and can grow up to 70 centimeters high. When the plant starts flowering, you will see round, white flower buds appear in June and July. Coarse chives have a stronger onion flavor.
Fine Chives are the ‘common’ variety with well-known blades that grow about 25 centimeters high and are widely available. The Latin name is Allium Schoenoprasum.