How to Grow Chives will show you the tips and techniques on how to grow this tasty herb that will add amazing value to any kitchen.
“In my ‘Big Dinners’ cookbook, I recreated my mother’s recipe for crab dip. The creamy dressing for this dip, made with mayonnaise, tomato paste, a touch of honey, sliced chives, lemon juice and zest, horseradish, and Tabasco, is reminiscent of Thousand Island dressing.” – Tom Douglas
Chives are one of the most versatile herbs there is that makes most dishes better. It has a delicate onion flavor, which adds wonderful flavor that will be loved.
French cooks would never be without fresh herbs in their kitchens, and chives are one of their favorites. They are part of the Fines Herbes mix of herbs that the French often use in cooking.
Both the flowers and the leaves of the chive plant are edible. You don’t want to use the stem of the flower because it’s tough.
Here’s the recipe for Fines Herbes:
Equal parts chopped chives, parsley, chervil, and tarragon.
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Here’s How to Grow Chives:
1) Chives are a hardy perennial.
That means chives will come back year after year. It’s classified as an herb, and both the leaves and flowers provide flavor to spice up your dishes.
You should plant chives in spring or fall for best results. Peak seasons for production is during spring and summer.
They are best served raw, but if you do cook them, make sure its brief, otherwise they will lose their flavor.
Chives are an essential part of every good French women’s cooking arsenal.
2) Growing chives from seed indoors.
You can start the seeds indoors between 8-10 weeks before the last frost. Growing chives from seed is a slow process.
Seeds that are more than three-years-old have a low rate of growth, so make sure your seeds are fresh. It’s best to sow seeds that are a year old or less.
Before transplanting chives in the garden, make sure there is good growth. Use the Hardening method before planting your new plants outdoors. Let the plants go outside for 1-2 hours a day so they can get used to the temperature and weather.
3) Growing chives from seed outdoors.
The soil temperature should be between 60-70 degrees. You want to have a soil PH of 6.0 to 7.0. Wait until the soil is workable in the spring.
You should make sure the soil drains well. Chives don’t like to to be in standing water.
Add compost to the soil before planting the seeds.
The seeds can take up to 14 days to germinate. Because chives are a slow-growing herb, make sure you keep the area weed-free, so the starts don’t get choked out.
4) Chive flowers.
Once the chive flowers have bloomed, make sure you remove them. If you don’t, the seeds will spread more chives throughout your garden.
Removing the flowers will also help stimulate leaf growth.
Chive flowers are edible, and you can use your chive flowers to beautify your salads, and you can also separate the flowers and use them as a garnish.
5) How to divide chive plants.
Every 2 to 3 years in the spring or fall, divide your chives by hand. If you divide your chives regularly, they will be more productive.
For best results on the years that you divide the plants, let them grow for a few weeks before you harvest.
6) Chives height and spread.
Plants grow 12 to 24 inches tall. Regular chives grow to about 12″ tall, garlic chives can grow up to 24″ tall. They spread to a foot across.
7) Chive companion planting.
Roses love chives because they help prevent black spot. You can also put chives under apple trees to ward off apple scab.
Avoid growing chives near carrots and tomatoes.
How to Grow Chives in Pots Indoors:
You want to start with a well-draining potting mix and in a pot that is at least 6 inches wide.
If you use a large pot, make sure the chives are at least six inches apart.
Chives like to be in a sunny location. Make sure they receive at least six hours of sunlight per day.
Water plants after planting.
Water the chives you want to transplant a few hours before moving them to make digging them up and dividing them easier.
Trim the chives to about 4″ tall.
In the new space that you’ll be transplanting your chives to, add compost to the hole you’ve dug.
Dig up the chives and divide the roots with your hands.
Place each plant in its new hole and water. You’ll want to water your chive plants regularly because their roots are near the surface and can dry out easily.
I harvest my herbs in the morning after the dew has dried on the leaves.
Cutting your chives will ensure a continuous harvest. Pulling them out will not.
You want to cut chives at least 2 inches above the ground with something sharp like scissors. Start from the outside and work your way to the inside.
Leave some leaves on each plant for best results.
How to Dry Chives:
How to Air Dry Chives:
You will want to clean your chives after cutting them. Remove debris and blemished leaves.
Pat chives dry with a towel.
Tie a string around the bundle of chives and hang upside down in a dry, cool location.
I usually tie a brown paper bag around the bundle before hanging the herb to make sure nothing falls on the floor, and it prevents dust from getting on them.
You will want to cut small holes in the bags to allow air to flow through them.
Crumble the chives once they are dry, and store in an airtight container and store in a cool, dark place like your food cabinet.
How to Dry Chives in a Dehydrator:
You will want to clean your chives after cutting them. Remove debris and blemished leaves.
Pat chives dry with a towel. Cut the chives into pieces and spread out on the tray of the dehydrator. Here’s the dehydrator that I love from Amazon.
Chives lose a lot of their flavor when you dry them – the best way to preserve chives is to freeze them.
Other Ways to Preserve Chives:
Cut up the chives and place on a cookie sheet and freeze overnight. Then place in a freezer bag or bowl for future use.
Here are Reasons Why You Should Grow Chives:
1) Growing chives help you save money.
Before I started growing my own chives, there wasn’t a week that went by that I didn’t buy fresh herbs from the grocery store.
Buying fresh herbs can add up after awhile. Growing chives is the gift that continues to give, year after year for a small initial investment.
2) Chives are natural pest control.
Chives have insecticidal and antifungal properties that naturally ward off disease and pests.
3) Making your dishes beautiful is much easier with a garnish of chives.
Add beauty to any dish with the simple addition of chives. Whether you use their beautiful flowers or the vibrant green leaves, it turns up the “wow” factor to homecoming.
4) Chives attract beneficial insects.
Butterflies and bees are both attracted to chives. They help pollinate our gardens.
5) Chives make a great gift idea.
Giving a pot of chives as a hostess gift or birthday gift is a thoughtful present everyone will love. You can print up instructions on how to care for the plant and even include a recipe or two.
You can also make your own seed packets and give away chive seeds all year long.
6) Add beauty to your garden with chives.
Chives are not only edible, but they are also beautiful too! I like to disperse the plants throughout my garden for their beauty and pest control properties.
7) Chives are a great addition to your garden for pest and disease control.
Chives repel aphids, Japanese beetles, and carrot flies. I love to disperse them throughout my garden.
8) Chives provide a nutritional punch.
Vitamin A, C, and K, folate, calcium, magnesium, and potassium are just a few of the vitamins and minerals that chives have.
9) Chives are easy to grow.
Even a beginning gardener can successfully grow chives.
10) Chive plants make a good ground cover.
Because chive plants “bunch” together, they make the perfect plant to add to a landscape where you need color.
11) Chives make tummies happy.
Chives help with digestion and help prevent bad breath. What’s not to love?
Chives vs Scallions:
Are chives and scallions the same thing? No, they aren’t. Chives are an herb, and scallions are part of the onion family.
Onion Chives vs Garlic Chives:
They are part of the same family, but onion chives have the flavor of onion, and garlic chives have garlic flavor.
Garlic chives have a stronger flavor than onion chives, which has a much more subtle flavor.
Garlic chives have a flat leaf and onion chives have round leaves with a hole down the center.
Here are some herbal cookbooks that might interest you on Amazon:
Herbs for Flavor, Health, and Natural Beauty – beauty and healing secrets in this cookbook with herb-inspired dishes.
I found this gorgeous cookbook on creating your own herbal cocktails on Amazon.
How to Use Fresh Chives in your recipes:
1) Chives in salads.
Chives are a perfect addition to your salads. You can use the purple flowers to turn your salad into a work-of-art, or chop up the chives as a delicious topping.
2) Use chives as garnish.
Chives are a fun way to food even more beautiful than it already is. Chives are so versatile to use, whether it’s just a sprinkle of chives for a garnish, or as a bed that food can lay on, or I’ve even seen it used as “grass” in a small vase.
You can also use chives to “bundle” small food together by tying the leaves.
3) Top potatoes with chives.
As far as I’m concerned, a baked potato isn’t a baked potato unless it has butter, cheese, sour cream and topped with fresh chives. I’m sure you think so too!
I fluctuate topping my mashed potatoes with either chives and parsley. Adding a touch of green to a sea of white comfort food.
4) Add chives to the top of your soup.
Homemade soup is something that everyone craves. Make yours a little bit more special by topping each bowl with fresh chives to make your soup into something even more special.
5) Potato salad and macaroni salad taste better with chives.
Mixing fresh chives in your potato and macaroni salads make one of your favorite side dishes taste even better.
6) Chives pair well with eggs.
Eggs and chives compliment each other. Whether you add chives to eggs benedict, omelets, scrambled eggs or quiche, you’ve turned a staple meal into something more.
7) Chives mixed with soft cheese.
Once I tasted chive cream cheese on my bagel, there was no going back to plain cream cheese. You can also mix it with other soft cheese to make your own delicious topping for crostini or bagels.
8) Pasta topped with chives.
Who doesn’t love pasta? I know I do. Adding fresh chives to your pasta dishes add some beautiful color to your plates.
9) Part of your baked goods.
Adding chives to bread, rolls and savory scones are just some of the ideas to use. I have a bakery near where I live that is run by a French pastry chef.
I have to pace myself for visits because I’m in love with their cheddar, bacon, and chive scones. They are seriously to-die-for.
10) Chive salad dressing.
Making your own salad dressing with fresh chives is the perfect way to dress your salad and add flavor at the same time.
11) Chives go well with fish.
Fish and chives pair well together too. Whether you add chives as an accent or use it as a starring ingredient with your favorite fish, its sure to help make your recipe into a winner.
12) Stir fry shines with the addition of chives.
Who doesn’t love good stir fry? Chives and sesame seeds are two of my favorite things to top them with.
Now that you know how easy to grow chives are, it’s time to think about adding them to your garden.
For inspiration, here’s an Enchanting Herb Farm in Michigan to stroll through on the website Only in Your State.
We’ve reached the end of How to Grow Chives. I hope you enjoyed reading it.
Let me know in the comments below if you have your own herb garden and what your favorite plants are.