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Chives is a surprisingly easy and resiliant plant. About 2 or 3 years ago now I was bought a strawberry planter. At the time our garden was quite small with little sun and so we decided that strawberrys would not be the best thing for us to grow. As as result we planted a variety of herbs from seeds in our strawberry planter. This included parsley, oregano, dil, mint and chives.
The chives grew in our strawberry planter really well. I think we first planted the seeds in sorting and that summer we had plenty of chives. Chives grow like rounded grass. When you want some chives to pit in your dinner simply take your scissors outside and cut off the amount you need.
We try to water our chives every day in high summer but I must say we are quite neglectful during winter. Our herbs do not seem to mind though and they have survived frosts and snow. The chives sometimes look dead and really go back in winter but so far have always come back strong in summer.
I particularly like getting chives and cutting it small, mixing it with margarine and then adding the herby butter onto hot new potatoes. Of course there are loads of other dishes that chives taste good in such as salads, pizza and pasta.
Chives add a nice nearly onion like taste. You don't need loads to make a difference to a meal by just adding a few chives, definately worth a go especially if you grow your own.
Chives like to reside in well drained soil which has a moderate amount of sand, they are hardy and enjoy basking in full sun, they will flower in summer and should be planted from seed in around mid April, early May. Chives grow like long thin pieces of grass and produce a round, somewhat fluffy light purple flower, which can also be eaten. The flower of the Chive attracts bees and therefore will help in the pollination of the rest of your vegetables and flowers. They taste of onions, as they are the smallest of the onion family and as they smell quite pungent they act as a little attractive plant protector as pests do not like the smell of them, so they are a good companion plant, particularly with carrots and so far my carrots have not succumbed to carrot fly. Chives will happily grow up to about 60cms.
Once the Chives flower the flavour of the herb seems to be reduced a lot, so I would say that its worth having some to chop for eating, which is easy, I just chop off a few centimetres from the top and they carrying on growing and having some you just let flower and look attractive. I have never tried to freeze chives or dry it out but you can buy bother versions in the supermarket.
Chives, like most of the herbs I have reviewed, have many uses, they can simply be snipped into salads, to perk them up a bit, they can be added to a jacket potato with a bit of butter or cream cheese, or used in casseroles. My current favourite way to use them is pretty simple. Boil up some baby new potatoes, in a separate pan fry 1 small red onion in rapeseed oil and then add in a dollop of mustard, I find most grainy mustard works, I have currently made up my own spicy tomato mustard that works very well. Once the potatoes and onions are cooked mix them together with a little bit more oil, stir through some rocket leaves and sprinkle with a generous amount of chopped Chives, this recipe can also include Bacon, for the meat eaters our there. The dish can be served hot or cold.
Overall Chives are very versatile, they also look good when in flower, are easy to grow and taste great.
This review also appears in Ciao! under the same username.
Having never had chives on my shopping list before, nevermind tried to grow them, growing chives was a relatively new experience for me. When I popped into the supermarket, I saw a pot of grow your own chives on special offer for £1 and I thought that it would be at least worth a try; after all, it could be a good investment and save me a little bit of money on herbs and spices. However, I was a little apprehensive, as I am not exactly well known for remembering to water the plants. Here are my views on chives, and growing them:
*GROWING YOUR CHIVES*
I am not a master at gardening, but you really did not need to be to grow these chives. The pot did not have any specific instructions, and it did not seem like the chives needed special attention as such, so I just placed the pot on a saucer (to catch the excess water) next to the windowsill where there was a lot of sunlight to be found, watering it daily. This was all the attention, it seemed, that it needed- it grew faster than I would have expected, so fast that I HAD to use it regularly so the chives would not be in danger of bending over. All you had to do was snip off the ends to use in your cooking, and it would just grow again, so it was a very sustainable plant. All in all, it was one of the easiest plant growing experiences I have ever faced, so it is a perfect herb to grow for beginners!
*TASTE AND FUNCTIONALITY*
The chives had a taste different from, but not unlike that of spring onions- it was a welcome addition to spice up ordinary, boring meals. You can add chives to basically anything you want to; it is great to add flavour to scrambled eggs, and you can make some delicious sour cream and chive dip with it. Pizzas and casseroles could also benefit from this, I believe. Chives are very easy to use- just cut or pluck a bit off the plant, chop it and add it your cooking whenever it is required.
The only problem I had with my little pot of chives was how, after several weeks of me owning it, flies suddenly started swarming around it. I don't know why, maybe because it is growing warmer, maybe they just like the taste of chives. It literally attracted flies like a magnet, and it was such a shock to see the flies buzzing around it one morning. This was such a shame since I had been having such success with the herb before the flies started attacking it, but I had to throw it away for obvious hygiene reasons, and did not manage to see it to the end of its lifespan. This has, I am afraid, put me off the idea of chives for a little, but I am sure I will try to grow some again later, perhaps in the cooler months.
Chives are a lovely plant, so easy to grow, and if you DO decide to grow them yourself, you could end up saving quite a bit of money. However, it is quite a shame about my experience with the flies and for that reason I could only rate it with 4 dooyoo stars
Growing food and cooking from scratch go hand in hand in my opinion. "Growing your own" doesn't have to be tricky or require acres of space - chives are an excellent example of how a pot kept outside can give you lots of tasty greenery without much (if any) care or required knowledge of gardening. Their oniony taste transforms meals, their flowers are attractive to look at and bees love them - very important considering bee populations are in worldwide decline. Once you've grown some and see how useful they are, you'll be planting them all over the place.
Chives are thought to be around 5,000 years old and are part of the allium family, which includes onions and garlic. The word chive comes from an old French word, cive, which derived from the Latin word for onion - cepa. Chives have many qualities - they can be eaten, look good, are useful companion plants (I'll explain more about this later) and have medicinal properties too. On top of all that, they are an absolute doddle to grow. I was in my garden yesterday and thought I heard my welsh onions singing a Bee Gees song, but it was just a chive talking.
GROWING YOUR OWN
Chives are easy to grow from seed. Try planting them directly outside in April, or they can be started off earlier indoors or under cover. Put the seeds about a centimetre deep into the soil, keep moist, and within about 3 months you'll be able to start cutting off the stalks to eat. You can pick up chive seeds from as little as 30p from places like Lidl, Wilkinsons, B&M etc.
The plants form tiny little bulbs in the soil that look like miniature onions - these can be separated by dividing them up when they are 2 to 3 years old, then these divided clumps can be replanted elsewhere and the whole cycle starts all over again - free plants!
They are at their most vigorous growth during the "growing season" (roughly April to September), but last year I had a second flush of growth due to the very mild (it got up to 20 degrees in October - in Lancashire!) autumn which was a pleasant surprise. When growing, the green stalks will reach about half a metre high, and have more rigid stalks that sit up proudly from the clumps with lovely purple flowers on them, about the size of a golf ball. These are what bees love, they also look fantastic and can be cut off and used as a garnish. If you're not into bees or making the garden look pretty but instead simply want the green leaves, then cutting off the flowers will protect the taste of the green stalks - these lose their flavour a bit when the plants are in flower. Cutting them back encourages new tasty growth, so get harvesting regularly for best effect.
They can cope with a wide range of conditions, although you may want to give some protection if the weather forecast predicts severe frost. They will take up as much space as you allow them to - a single seed can be grown in a yoghurt pot on your kitchen window sill, or you can have masses of them around paths and borders in your garden. I once grew some out of a wellington boot in my back yard, my wife was a bit puzzled at first but then warmed to the idea when visitors made good comments about them and how quirky the idea was. Ooh, get me with my "outside living space" creative ideas!
They make excellent companion plants for carrots - the onionesque scent of them puts off the carrot fly which can ruin your crop of carrots, it masks the smell of the carrots.
Every time I need some, I harvest them by snipping off the top four or five inches of a fistful of stalks. These get rinsed in water to knock any bugs or cobwebs off, then using a pair of scissors I snip the ends off very finely into a bowl, and keep snipping till its all gone. This gives you tiny little green rings which can then be tossed in with salads, cooked veg, soups and stews, mixed into sour cream, or folded into soft cheese. Chives also go well with fish and eggs, and I highly recommend trying them mixed in with boiled new potatoes. They don't dry out very well and when I tried I had a bunch of what looked like dried brown grass - I didn't use them. They do freeze quite well though - I chop them finely (using the scissors to snip them into little pieces) and freeze them in ice cube trays with a drop of water.
Chives' medicinal properties include having high amounts of vitamins A and C, and they're also good for thinning your blood, in a similar way to garlic.
A very easy plant to grow that both looks good and tastes great, I urge you try growing some for yourself - they're an excellent beginners' plant and hopefully might give you the "grow your own" bug.
With the recession and households attempting to make some savings on their outgoings, many people are going back to days gone by when growing your own vegetables, herbs or fruit was the norm. My husband thankfully is very green fingered, and was brought up in a household where growing your own was a family affair and he has carried on the traditions within our own home.
Of the many things that my husband grows in the garden, one of the easiest that even I can get involved in (or wish to get invovled in) is the herbs that he pots up every year. One of the many herbs that he plants in pots are chives, a herb that is part of the onion family, and an extremely useful addition to cooking. I use it within sandwiches, mixed with melted butter over baby potatoes and even in omelettes, so growing it has many advantages, with little of the work that is often needed in the garden.
It is not necessary to buy new chive bulbs each year, it is a perennial plant that comes again each year, after cutting it down each Autumn. After having a winter like last year, it is probably best to store the herb during those harsh months in either a greenhouse or if you don't have access to one, then with some fleece or bubble wrap around the pot. When the Spring comes and the weather heats up the herb will start coming again, and in fact we are enjoying our fresh herbs at the moment.
When my husband first started growing this herb, I was quite surprised by the appearance of the purple round pom pom like flowers that sprout up amongst the chives which you don't see when you buy a small pot of them in the supermarket. Although I have never done so, I do know some people who like to cut the purple flowers and use them for decoration around the house, as they are quite pretty. They can however get a little wild and untidy if not kept in check, and it is probably a good idea to take off any faded flower heads and let the others grow themselves in the pot. My husband has been told that it can affect the plant if you remove the flowers, but he has never found removing any to have any negative effect on the herb.
As I said earlier, these are low maintenance herbs. Yes, you need to water them depending on how dry it is, and my husband would give them a feed weekly or fortnightly using a liquid plant feed such as miracle grow. My husband cuts chives regularly and the more you use at these herbs the more they come, lasting you right through until early Autumn, and the herb will get less untidy and last for much longer. Last year, was the first year, that we attempted to freeze some with great success. I cut them up very finely and stored them in little freezer bags, but I also mixed them with some butter to make some herb butter and froze it as well.
My husband, every second year, would often re pot this herb, with fresh compost., but other than that plus a little watering in dy weather, they really are a low maintenance herb, that even those that aren't green fingered (like me!) can manage. You would be surprised when you start growing them, just how much you can actually use them in, and given that dried chives are quite expensive, this is a great way of adding flavour to sandwiches or other meals without hassle or cost. Ideal for those wanting to get into some low maintanence grow your own!
This week-end I have been busy taking advantage of the wonderful weather and tidying up my herb garden.
One of my favorite plants in there are the chives. These are very delicate plants when they first come up - not to look after but to look at. They have very long thin almost tube like leaves that end in a bit of a point. Quick word of warning - remove any dead leaves before they become too hard as they can poke you in the eye when weeding if you are not too careful.
These plants do have flowers as you can see from the picture above. They are actually quite pretty. They are purple in colour and are almost like a fluffy ball. They aren't the sort of flowers that you would put in a vase but if you want soemthing to decorate a salad or it can look quite classy placed on a white plate for a BBQ.
The leaves are the part of the plant that you can eat. They are a delicate onion flavour. They are ideal chopped finely and put in mayonaise for a dip or chopped a bit more roughly and put in a salad.
These plants are fairly robust and once you have had them for a season they should be established and give you many years of enjoyment. You may find that you need to split them eventually because the initial clump will spread.
One of my early memories from when I was a little girl, was helping my chinese grandmothers friends, the 'chews' as I thought they were called, pick vegetables and herbs in their huge back garden. I remember being pretty taken with the chives, especially when they told me the flowers were edible - round I walked with bits of chive hanging out of my mouth, and I was rewarded for my hard work with a delicious chive omelette for my tea .
I still love chives for various reasons - I still love eating them, and I like growing them too, they're so easy to care for and the purple flower heads are attractive. And the fact that chives have some insect repelling properties doesn't hurt either . Chives are actually the smallest varity of the onion family, and can grow from small onion like bulbs . They can also easily be grown from seed, and have a handy habit of self-pollinating, so once you've got a couple of plants in, you'll soon have more .
The ancient Chinese have the first documented usage of chives in 3000 B.C, and Marco Polo is credited with bringing chives to Europe from China.
Romanian Gypsies have used chives in fortune telling, and some people believe hanging bunches of dried chives in and around your home wards off disease and evil spirits.
Chives can be purchased as plants from garden centres, and with very little care except fot the occasional watering, will thrive and spread in any kind of soil. They can also be grown from bulb or from seed - I have no experience of growing frm bulbs, but heres a simple guide to growing them from seed .
Sow the seeds indoors using normal potting compost in small flowerpots at the beginning of march. Make sure the compost stays moist, but don;t over water them. It takes about a week to ten days for the first shoots to appear, and about 4-5 weeks for the plants to be ready for planting outside . Plant 10cm apart (do bear in mind chives tend to look after themselves and grow pretty well, you may need to spread them later if they like your garden) . Chives thrive in any kind of soil, and do well in either full or partial sun . Chives also repel insects, so are usually easy to keep disease free, but if you grow onions, try to plant the chives apart from them as they are susceptible to onion fly. They tend to flower in june - and can carry on flowering for ages!
Both the leaves and the flowers of the chive can be eaten, the flowers look amazing as an edible garnish on a salad, and the leaves add a subtle flavour to omelettes and other recipes . Below is my favourite omelette recipe for you to try .
Mushroom and Chive Omelette
2 large eggs
A generous pile of snipped fresh chives
A pinch of dried rosemary
1 chopped spring onion
A clove of garlic, finely chopped
Fry the garlic and mushrooms and fry until the mushrooms are just starting to soften. Add in the spring onions, and fry for a couple more minutes, then set to one side
Beat the eggs together with the milk, chives, and herbs, and pour into a hot non stick frying pan. Scrape the mixture away from the sides as you cook, and move the mixture to make sure the bottom of the pan is evenly coated with the egg mixture. Cook until the egg mix is bubbling on top, then top one half of the omelette with the mushrooms. Fold the omelette over, and serve. If you like, you can add a little grated cheese too , its yummy!
Chives are a great herb - easy to look after, and with a mild flavour that enhances salads, dips, sauces, and all sorts. Try some fresh chives mixed with some soft cheese on a bagel !
I definately recommend having a bash at growing these too - they look so pretty in a garden, and really take very little care - a plant can cost as little as 1.49 from a garden centre, with a pack of seeds costing about the same .
Chives are very versatile and I often use them in my cooking. One of my favourite uses for them is to blend chopped chives into some cream cheese and add some finely minced garlic and just a pinch of garlic powder, mix it all together well and you have a very tasty topping for crackers, to use on canapes or in a sandwich.
The smallest species of the onion family chives are available all of the year round. Chives are a herb that grow in a large clump and resemble `blades of grass`, when you snip some to use remember to take the freshest and greenest among them.
They have a mild onion type flavour and contain an oil that is rich in sulphur which is found in the onion family but presents itself mildly in the chive plant. Chives do flower, a light purple flower which is also edible.
Chives have no calorific value. They can be stored in the fridge, if they are popped into a plastic bag they will keep well for a few days.
If you are preparing a salad then chopped chives look really good sprinkled over the top, I generally chop them using scissors , its far easier.
If you fancy something different in a sandwich then egg and mayonnaise filling is delicious with chopped chives added.
They look wonderful chopped finely and sprinkled over buttered new potatoes and also sprinkled on top of a bowl of soup.
If you have a patch of soil that you would like to fill with greenery then chive makes an ideal landscaping plant. The plant produces purple, white or pink flowers. If you just leave them to grow the patch will soon thicken and make an attractive and easy to maintain space filling plant.
Some insects hate chives, but the bees love them.
One specific variety of chive is really good to eat, the Chinese chive, it grows and flowers exactly like ordinary chive but it has a hint of garlic in the leaves.
If you wanted to experiment then you could buy a packet of Chive seed, Thompson and Morgan are well established seed merchants. But more often than not its a lot easier to beg a little clump from a friend or neighbours garden and start off that way!
Chives are fairly easy to grow and maintain, they do like a sunny spot and they love a moist but drained soil. If you would like to grow a pot to keep in the kitchen then just transplant a few into a pot, they look attractive on the windowsill.
If you have to resort to buying a small pot of chive then they will cost you around £1.50 a pot from any good garden centre.
I like to use fresh herbs when I cook and chives are one I wouldnt be without. Chives are easy to grow, taste delicious and look attractive in the garden too.
A bit about chives.
Allium Schoenoprasum to give Chives its Latin name, have been cultivated for thousands of years. The ancient Chinese are documented as using chives from 300B.C. Marco Polo is said to have brought Chives to Europe from China.
There is evidence to show that the Romans believed that eating chives would help ease the pain of sunburn and sore throats.
Bunches of dried Chives hung around the home are reported to ward off evil spirits and disease.
Chives are part of the onion family and are the only species to grow in Europe, Asia and North America.
Growing Chives is very easy. The best time to sow the seeds is in March. Simply sow in some compost and place the pots in a warm spot and keep well watered. The seedlings should emerge within about 10 days and they will be ready to plant outside about 1 month later. Chives should ideally be planted outside from about April. The seedlings should be planted in well dug soil leaving about 10 cm between each plant. Chives do prefer a sunny position but will do well in partial shade too.
Chives will be ready to harvest from early summer until the autumn depending on the weather.
Chives are not prone to disease although being part of the onion family they can suffer from onion fly. It is best not to plant chives close to any onions for this reason.
Once established, Chives will spread quickly and can start to take over your garden if you let them! Chives have bulbous roots like onions and it is easy to separate the bulbs so stop them getting to large. This can be done in March or in October.
Chives are evergreen perennials and can grow to about 35 cm if you dont cut them back. They have hollow, grass like leaves and produce a lovely purple flower. The flower is very useful for attracting bees thus helping to pollinate other plants growing nearby.
When you want to harvest the Chives simply cut the leaves with a pair of scissors. I always leave at least 5 cm of leaf. The leaves will grow back quickly during the summer and will be ready to harvest again within weeks.
If you dont harvest the leaves a flower will form and the leaves will become thick and not idea to use. As I love the flower, I like to leave some of my Chive plants to flower and cut others so getting the best of both worlds!
The leaves should be cut back in the winter to about 3 cm. This helps to promote new growth in the spring.
It is possible to eat the entire herb including the bulb and flower. The bulb is very similar to an onion although the taste is much milder. However I really cant see the point of this, as it is the leaves that contain the subtle flavour. The flower of the Chive can be used in salads, although I have never tried it. To use the flower simply separate the petals and sprinkle on to your salad.
Chives have a lovely subtle flavour. They are best eaten raw as cooking destroys the flavour. They are best used fresh but can be frozen for use in the winter months. To freeze cut the chives into sections and place in ice cube trays. Fill each cube up with water and freeze. I have used this method and it gives god results. When you want to use the Chives you simply defrost and then use as you would fresh Chives.
Chives go well with lots of dishes and they are easy to use. I like chives sprinkled on top of scrambled eggs. Just cut a few leaves into small sections and sprinkle on top. I find using Chives helps me cut down on the amount of salt I use.
Chives go really well with cheese. I like to mix a small handful of fresh Chives into plain cottage cheese. Chives are also good when sprinkled on top of cheese on toast.
A summer potato salad just wouldnt be the same without the addition of Chives. Chives not only add to the taste but also give colour. I like to make my own mayonnaise too if Im really trying to impress!
Chives go well with baked potato and butter, again they ad colour as well as flavour.
Chives are a rich source of vitamin A and C and also contain iron. They do have some medicinal benefits too, although these are minimal. They can help lower blood pressure and improve circulation but would have to be eaten on a regular basis to have any real effect.
A word of warning here, Chives can be poisonous to dogs if they are eaten in large quantities so be careful especially if you have a puppy around!
Chinese Chives are a slightly different herb and produce a lovely white flower. The taste is very similar although they have more of a hint of garlic than onion.
Chives are easy and fun to grow and will add flavour and interest to your cooking.
Chives is one of my favourite herbs because of its fresh flavour, and because it's so easy to use. I like foodstuffs which don't require cooking.
HOW TO EAT IT
I simply pick some chives from my herb garden or my window sill, chop it up with a knive, and sprinkle it generously on top of just about anything (except on chocolate mousse).
Fresh chives tastes great with tomato salad, potato salad, mixed salad - well, any salad, really - and it adds a certain something to sandwiches. When I was a child in Germany, my mother made chives sandwiches, and I quickly learned to make them too: Spread a slice of bread with butter, half it, put lots of chopped chive on one half, put the other half on top, ready. This tastes particularly nice if the sandwich is served cool from the fridge.
Dilute a stock cube in boiling water, add a handful of chopped chives, and you have a delicious simple soup. For something more filling with extra protein, stir an egg into the soup.
It is best, however, not to cook the chives, or it will lose much of its flavour and consistency. Instead, sprinkle it on top of whatever you've cooked, just before you take remove the saucepan from the heat, or just before serving.
I remember that my mother often placed a small bowl of chopped chives on the table, so that everyone could help themselves to however much they wanted with their food.
Another popular southern German use of chives is Kraeuterquark, that is, quark blended with herbs (usually finely chopped parsley and chives). This is served with boiled young potatoes in their skin, and the traditional drink to go with it is a glass of ice cold milk. Delicious! Unfortunately, quark (a dairy dish) is virtually unknown here, but you can use natural yoghurt or sour cream instead.
Chives can be dried for storage, but I don't recommend it, because dried chives doesn't look or taste good. However, it freezes well.
HOW TO GROW IT
Although I'm a keen gardener and love growing plants from seeds, I find chives (Allium Schoenoprasum) tricky to grow. It's much easier to buy the plants. But I don't purchase them from a garden centre or plant nursery, where I've seen them priced £2.50 for a measly plant.
This is my secret how to buy chives plants really cheap:
I buy my plants from the fresh produce section of a big supermarket! You may not believe that the plants stored under the fluorescent lights there are healthy, but in my experience, they're better than those from the specialist shops. Much cheaper, too - I've bought them for as little as 50pence a pot on special offer.
However, supermarket herbs are grown in very little soil, because they're meant for quick consumption rather than for a long life, so it is important that you give them nourishment.
Put the plant pot in a bowl full of water, and let the soil soak up the water. Then slap the bottom of the pot to get the plant out. What looks like one plant is really several... perhaps dozens.
Divide them carefully, putting them into flowerpots with multi-purpose compost, one or several per pot. Firm the soil, and place them on a windowsill. Many of the plants will die (that's normal, they're exhausted from the move), but some will survive, and these will grow into rich, full plants.
Chives also grows well in the garden, especially if you give it a place in the sun. If it likes the spot you've chosen, it will come up year after year, for decades.
In my former garden, a number of chives plants grew between paving slates and a greenhouse. They had barely any space to grow, and hardly any soil to feed from. Very little rain ever reached the spot, and on top of it all, people trod on the plant. Guess what? It thrived. It (or its grandparents) had thrived in that spot for decades, although at least one owner of the garden had tried to eradicate it with weedkiller.
By comparison, the plants that I had put into the choice spot in the garden, nurtured and cared for, following all the textbook instructions about compost, mulch, watering, the right amount of everything... they struggled on through the summer, died down in autumn, and were never seen again.
Currently, I'm growing chives (from supermarket-bought plants) in wall baskets placed at a convenient harvesting height, and they're doing well. I pick them even now in winter.
Once the chives plants are established, they can be harvested. Simply take a pair of scissors or a sharp knife and cut the stalks. The more often you cut them, the quicker they will re-grow.
Some books claim that you have to cut the purple flowerheads before they develop, or the stalks will turn bitter. In my experience, this is simply not true. Besides, the flowers are edible as well. They make a juicy addition to a tossed salad, or a pretty edible garnish.
A related plant worth growing is Garlic Chives, which has the combined flavours of (mild) garlic and chives.
A footnote for the linguists among you: Chives in German is 'Schnittlauch' (cut leeks) - try to pronounce that :-D
Chives are a very nice herb. Planted in a pot, they are decorative. They also have a pretty purple flower. It is a rather unusual flower as it looks like a purple puffball. Both leaves and flower are edible. You can use them in salads, omelettes, soups and with meats. The normal way to use the leaves is to chop them into small pieces, althoug if you want to be artistic and use larger pieces or even put the whole leaf on a plate, there's abosolutely nothing wrong with that. You can plant it in the garden, where it will thrive. So much so that I would advise sinking a pot in the ground to contain the roots. Otherwise, it will do its level best to take over your garden. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as it is very pretty. If you want an unusual garden and don't want to bother too much with it, maybe letting chives spread is actually quite a good idea. Imagine the end result of a sea of misty purple puffballs. It probably would look quite incredible.
Chives – Allium schoenoprasum - are an indispensable perennial herb which should be grown in all gardens. Related to the onion, chives have aromatic, hollow, grass like leaves growing to 6 –8” high and beautiful purple pom pom flower heads in summer. Chives and some other similar alliums are natives of the orient. Some people maintain that chives were introduced into Britain by the Romans but others think they came much later. History records that Marco Polo brought back chives from China in the 13th century where they have been in use for over 4000 years. It seems likely that they were a later introduction to England because they were hardly known to the famous herbalist Culpeper. Chives grow virtually anywhere although they are happiest in sun and are very easy to propagate. The plants quickly produce offsets which can be divided easily. One small pot from a garden centre could provide enough plants to edge a border within a couple of years. Some gardeners maintain that you should remove the flowers to increase leaf production but once they are well established chives grow so quickly that this shouldn’t be necessary. The flowers are pretty, attract beneficial insects and can be used themselves – so I say keep the flowers. Most people know that chopped chives can be used in salads, especially potato salad and as a garnish for soups etc but if you do get too many and they need thinning you can also use the spring onion like bulbs. The flowers are also edible and actually seem to have a slightly stronger oniony taste than the leaves. A mixture of the pretty purple florets and chopped leaves makes quite a spectacular garnish – I think that it is particularly pretty on mushroom soup. The flowers also dry well for flower arranging if you’re into that sort of thing. Chives as Natural Nursemaids Most people seem to grow their herbs in special areas but chives deserve to spre
ad around a bit. Apart from being a perfect edging plant to almost any kind of flowerbed they have special properties which make them particularly suited to growing under roses. Chives are perfect companion plants to roses because they accumulate sulphur which has a natural fungicidal effect and helps to give protection from blackspot and other fungal diseases. They are also a natural insecticide and give protection against aphids and finally as an added bonus they increase the roses’ scent and the flowers attract beneficial insects. Because they die back in the winter the roses can still be mulched. They form very good ground cover eventually and no weeding will be necessary under prickly roses. Chives can be beneficially grown also with chrysanthemums, sunflowers and tomatoes and help to prevent scab on apples. Planting them alongside carrots helps to deter carrot fly. You can also make an infusion with the leaves to spray plants affected with aphids and this can be also used to protect gooseberries from mildew. So as you can see it is a very useful plant to grow just about everywhere and they are so versatile in aiding other plants that they could be considered the natural health service of the plant world. Alliums similar to chives Chinese Chives - Allium tuberosum There is another variety of chives called Chinese chives which is also worth looking out for. While this plant is not quite so prolific it does have a rather nice subtle garlic flavour and delicate starry white flowers. These also make a nice addition to the garden and kitchen and are lovely used in cream cheese. Welsh Onion – Allium fistulosum These ‘Welsh’ onions do not come from Wales but like chives originate in the East. ‘Welsh’ here has its Old English sense meaning ‘foreign’. The Welsh onion is another perennial and can be quite a striking architectural plant if placed in a suitable
position. It has a stronger taste than chives and a slight hint of garlic but can be used in much the same way. This plant is used a lot in Chinese herbalism where it is known as cong bai.
Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) are native to the Northern Hemisphere. They are an exceedingly easy perennial to grow and if left to flower (which also looks nice in a flower border) it will re-seed readily, you'll be finding new chive plants sprouting in the most unlikely places all over the garden (you may wish to watch that!). Usually though, you’ll have to resort to planting them from small bulbs called sets in the earliest part of spring. Chives are best grown in full sun, (well, as close as we can get to full sun anyway!) and in moist/well drained soil they can grow to a foot in height. Clumps of the dark green, round, hollow leaves should be divided every 3 to 4 years to prevent them from looking ‘weedy’. In otherwords, give your chives a “haircut” frequently! They can be prone to aphids, caterpillars and mildew root, so do your normal gardening around them. As with all members of the Allium genus chives contain sulfur, some iron and Vitamins, being especially high in Vitamin A and C. They also contain allicin, which may help lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol and may even prevent certain types of cancer. Because you can start harvesting within 6 weeks of planting this is a good ‘hobby’ for children to enjoy. With a mild sweet onion flavour chives can be chopped as a garnish. Sprinkled on food, they can stimulate the appetite, or they can promote digestion. Chives really complement egg and tomato dishes. I use the chopped leaves in salads, soups and cheese dishes, and of course cottage cheese – yum. (btw, they don’t keep their flavour when their dried) * Remember, hang bunches of chives in your home to ward off evil spirits!! *
Chives are probably one of the most well known and well used herbs. Chives have an onion taste but it's not as strong as a normal onion and hence is used where an onion would be overpowering. Chives have grass like leaves and they grow in clumps and can be used from February till November. It used to be found wild in the UK but I have not seen and wild now for many years. Chives need a light well drained soil and plenty of sun, which is probably why they don’t grow wild in the UK any more!! I have the plants in a rockery and they give a nice ornamental edging although they grow just as well in pots. The plant will grow to 30cm in height and has little lilac flowers around July to August. The leaves are said to have antiseptic uses and my great grandmother used to tell me that they were god for Rheumatism. I make chives butter which is great on vegetables, lamb, beef or fish. ½ a cup of butter, A small handful of chopped chives, A splash of lemon juice depending on how much you like it, Salt and Pepper to season, Mix all together and put in the fridge to cool. It will keep for a number of days and I’m sure you will enjoy.
Chives are very easy to grow. You can sow the seeds inside, or in greenhouse at any time of year. I find that sowing them in a plastic propagator is the best method. Keep them in it until they are big enough to transplant into individual pots. Once there is no more danger of frost you can plant them outside or leave them in pots. Chives have an onion like smell and they taste like a very mild onion. They resemble the stalks of spring onions and you just cut the green leaves and chop them to use. Tasty in salads, with cheese or wherever you would use onions. (Especially good if you are one of those people who finds onions too strong.) Well worth growing as they need very little attention.
Allium schoenoprasum is the smallest species of the onion family Alliaceae, native to Europe, Asia and North America. They are referred to only in the plural, because they grow in clumps rather than as individual plants. Allium schoenoprasum is also the only species of Allium native to both the New and the Old World. Its species name derives from the Greek skhoinos (sedge) and prason (onion). Its English name, chive, derives from the French word cive, which was derived from cepa, the Latin word for onion. Culinary uses for chives involve shredding its leaves (straws) for use as condiment for fish, potatoes and soups. Because of this, it is a common household herb, frequent in gardens as well as in grocery stores. It also has insect-repelling properties which can be used in gardens to control pests.