|Common Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)|
One of my favorite backyard herbs is chives. I love to chop them up and put them on potatoes with a little sour cream, but I don't have any recipes that use chives. I am not very good at using fresh herbs in my kitchen in general. That is something I'm hoping to get better at this summer. :)
Chives are part of the Allium family which makes them a close relative to the onion. Along with their use in the kitchen, they are often used as a companion plant to deter unwanted insects in the garden. They come in two 'flavors'; the traditional (common) onion-like, and garlic (aka Chinese chive).
The common chive produces a smaller umbel (umbrella shape) of purple/white flowers in late May or early June while the garlic chive displays a larger umbel of white flowers in the fall. Both will easily self-seed. It is in your best interest to clip off the flowers before they set seed or you will be weeding out chive seedlings in the spring. (Trust me, I've been there!) They also duplicate from the root and after a couple of years you will want to split your clump. A great use for that extra clump is to transplant all or some of it into a pot in the fall and keep it inside for kitchen use over the winter, or pass it on to a friend.
Chives are very easy to start from seed or transplanted after splitting an established clump. Plant in a full or mostly sunny location. They require little water to survive once established and are not fussy about the soil either. They are a great starter plant for someone new to gardening or who doesn't have a 'green thumb'. ;)
I plant my chives in bottomless pots set into the ground to give them some containment. This helps me set limits to how big I let the clumps get before I split them & know what I should weed out when I don't get the flowers clipped off before they set seed.
If you have a great recipe or use for chives, I would love to hear about it! I'm in the mood for some garden adventure, but especially ones that I can take into the kitchen. :D
Happy Gardening! :)