Chives are a must-have in the kitchen garden. Photo by a.pitch under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.
Chives make a beautiful addition to a perennial border. Photo by White Moss under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.
Try harvesting chive flowers to brighten up a salad. Photo by Startcooking under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.
I’m an onion fanatic, so perennial chives are a must-have in my kitchen garden. The problem is that I still haven’t figured out how many I’d like to repeatedly harvest and how many I’d like to let flower, because the flowers are simply Dr.-Seuss-darling. Okay, there’s more to it than that. The pink and purple pom-pom flowers are downright ornamental and add color to gardens and borders.
These blossoms also attract beneficial insects to the garden such as hover flies and parasitic wasps, which feed on plant enemies. I’m fanatical about this type of planting anyway and I’m always looking for more ways to seduce the good guys to my yard. Beneficial insects aren’t made up soley of predators, the working class, the pollinators, are part of that group, too. Pollinators in your garden means that all your other fruits and veggies get pollinated, as well.
Chives (Allium schenoprasum) can be started from seed in the spring by planting the seeds 1 to 1-1/2 feet apart in little clusters or groups. Or they can be started by dividing mature plants that are best divided every 3 or 4 years anyway. Chives are simple to grow and like all other plants, enjoy some compost dressing every now and again. If you water them deeply, you’ll encourage deep root growth; which you want.
|More on chives …
• How to Grow Chives
• Chives in the Kitchen
When you harvest chives give them a nice, short haircut with sharp scissors or just take a few individual leaves. Then there’s the question of how many blooms to leave outside and how many to bring in because you can always fancy up a salad by tossing in some chive flowers as well as the onion-flavored leaves. If you want to try their more pungent flowers, harvest them when they’re just beginning to open. In the warmer growing zones, it’s possible for chives to grow year-round, but otherwise, they die back come winter and reappear the following spring.
Yes, chives are something I can’t do without in my veggie garden – don’t even get me started on garlic chives (Allium tuberosum)…
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