Garden Fresh Chives

February 9, 2006

Chives are one of the easiest culinary herbs to grow in the home garden. A sign of just how easy they are to cultivate is provided by the fact that existing chive plants will readily self seed and produce new plants with no assistance at all from the gardener.

Planting and Growing Chives

Chive herb plants are also very ornamental with spiky dark green clumps of leaves topped by brightly colored purple flower blossoms. For the best ornamental display arrange this herb in clusters of four or five plants grouped together.

Chives can be easily started from seed, or you can obtain established plants from garden centers or herb plant suppliers. Existing chive plants can also be divided to produce new plants.

Chives is a fast growing, perennial herb that will mature into a large clump of flavorful leaves within the second year after planting in the garden. It’s one of the first perennials to reappear each spring and the flowers begin blossoming during early summer.

Pungent Leaves and Edible Flowers

Each chive plant will produce dozens of long lasting edible flowers that can be used just like the chive leaves in your favorite recipes, or they can serve as a garnish to dress up salads or baked potatoes. Keep the flowers picked to encourage leaf production but allow a few blossoms to mature on the plant to self-seed and produce new chive plants.

The chive leaves can be harvested a few at a time for kitchen use, or you can harvest the entire plant at once, as established plants will quickly regrow. Two or three chive plants will supply you with all the fresh leaves you can use, with enough left over to dry or freeze for winter use.

Dividing Chive Plants

After a few years in the garden each chive plant should be divided to regenerate the plant and maintain vigorous growth.

To divide, simply dig the plant up and use a sharp knife or spade to cut through the leaves and roots to create separate plants. A large chive plant can be divided into three or four individual plants to be replanted into the garden.

In addition to the common chive variety with purple edible blossoms, you can grow a variety called garlic chives that has white flowers and a mild garlicky flavor.

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