It’s true confession time. Sometimes I assign a personality to my herbs. Rosemary is a wise old woman with lots of depth and endurance that emerges when things get hot in the kitchen. Basil is a temptress, just begging to be touched and stroked and added to the soup pot. But chives – they’re cute little imps, smiling and waving in the breeze, ready to add a flash of onion flavor to any food.
Where and How to Plant
Anytime during the growing season is a good time to plant this perennial herb. When purchasing, select a pot with as many young shoots as possible. They can be gently pulled apart into small groups when transplanting, giving the seedlings more room to grow and multiplying your harvest.
Onion chives are content to grow in containers or in the soil. Chives are good garden neighbors and can be easily tucked near ornamental flowers. Their light green leaves and vertical growth provide a nice contrast to the bushy shape of most annuals.
If you live in a mild climate plant them anywhere you have full sun. If you live in a hot climate like me, you’ll find that chives do best with afternoon shade during the heat of summer. Chives need regular watering but should not be planted in a spot that tend to stay soggy after a hard rain. Poor drainage will eventually rot the bulbous roots.
Clipping and Using Chives
You can harvest chives as soon as the new leaves grow to over six inches. Clip a portion of the leaves to within two inches of the soil (yes, that low). Each time you clip during the growing season, cut a different section of the clump to give it time to recover. Chives can be kept with their ends in a glass of refrigerated water for several days before using.
Always use fresh chives for the best flavor. Dried chives are not nearly as tasty. Sprinkle diced chives on soups or salads for a light touch of onion flavor. Add some chives to scrambled eggs or omelets. Sprinkle some on top of your favorite casserole. Their subtle flavor and green confetti look will make any dish more appealing.
The lavender pom-poms of onion chives are edible. They look like they’d be fun to nibble whole but that may be a bit too much onion flavor. Instead, break the pom-pom into individual florets before eating. Sprinkle them on mashed potatoes or a split baked potato for a light onion flavor. Add them to the wok just before finishing a stir-fry dish.
These are just a few ways you can use chives in the kitchen. So buy some chives for your edible garden this weekend and have plenty of this cheerful herb to use all year round.