Growing Culinary Herbs: Chives
- Growing Chives
Natural to most of the northern hemisphere, chives are very easy to grow.
A few years back a friend and I were discussing herbs and we reached a point where it was necessary to ask, what is an herb/ Herbs serve many purpose and in this hub the use for herbs that we are examining is culinary. So in light of that, what is a herb?
Well I have to go back to that conversation to answer, for me a culinary herb is any plant that will enhance the flavour of the food that I am preparing. This includes plants from celery to chives and much more.
We will talk about celery in another hub, for now let’s focus on chives.
Allium schoenoprasum or common garden chives can be grown indoors and out. Chives are grown for the flavour of their leaves which will remind you of a mild, but oh so tasty, onion.
The stems and light purple flowers can be used to enhance your meals; however, as chives will quickly lose their flavour, they are best added near the end of the food’s preparation.
The common chive is the most well known variety and what you usually see growing in home gardens. The common chive will grow to a height of about 30cm tall and as I have said has a mild, onion flavour.
This chive has masses of small, purple spherical flowers throughout the summer.
There is another variety which is much less known. The Chinese or garlic chive will grow at a slower rate than the common chive and has a garlic taste rather than onion.
The two could well complement each other in your cooking. The flowers of the garlic chive are white and there are fewer of them on the plant.
Chives are not fussy about the soil you plant them I and will accept just about anything as long as you prepared it and add organic matter such as well-rotted animal manure or homemade compost before sowing.
Chives enjoy full sun or partial shade which makes them easy to place in your garden. They do well in containers both indoors and out.
You can direct sow the seeds into the container or garden bed in mid to late spring.
If you enjoy the mild onion flavour and want to have chives handy to flavour, soups, stews and stir fries for example, add them to your kitchen herb garden. They will do well on a window sill or table and thus be right at hand when you need them.
Remember, for the best effects do not add them until a few minutes before you are ready to serve the meal. If the chives are within arm’s length of your cooking pot you can cut them fresh with a good sharp pair of scissions.
The chives will be ready to harvest approximately six weeks or so after you have planted them. The chive is a perennial so will come up again in the Spring and can be harvested as soon as established plants resume growth in the spring.
You can use your chives either fresh or frozen; they do not retain their flavor well when dried.
This is a very easy plant to grow, harvest and flavour your meals. Give chives a try.