Everything You Need to Know About Chives
A kind of garlic, shallots, leeks, scallions and onions, chives are an uncelebrated but integral part of the culinary world. Chives are primarily used as herbs in all kinds of dishes including potatoes, soup, salads, etc. Their mild onion-y flavor makes them suitable to be included in savory dishes. The freshest ones have more of their characteristic flavor and taste. So, chives make for an excellent herb for garnishing and such.
Their nutritional value is also remarkable – containing an array of vitamins, minerals, and other necessary nutrients. Needless to say, the consumption of chives is quite healthy for the human body. Other than all this, chives, with their vivid green hue, have the potential to change the look of a dish!
What Do Chives Look Like?
Chives are nothing fancy looking but they do bear beautiful purple blossoms, depending on their kind. Garlic chives, for example, look slightly different, bearing white flowers instead. One thing common is that they are all grass-like. Onion chives may be hollow.
Chives – The Parts of the Plant and Their Use
The green stem of the plants is what is usually consumed by the mass people. Chives plant is more likely to be used as garnish, as mentioned before. The thin, hollow stem of the herb is chopped to fine pieces for use. In other cases, they may be used to wrap around an entrée.
Many people also like to make chive butter by adding and mixing the chopped plant to the butter. Chive butter tastes excellent when served with grilled steaks or roasted poultry. The chopped chives are also added to cream cheese to make a nice spread. And the best is definitely baked potatoes in which chives are an absolute mandatory ingredient!
At times, people mistake them with garlic chives – which are different from the original chives. The key to knowing the difference between them is observing and tasting the stem. First, the stem of the garlic chives will definitely be more wide and flat, compared to ordinary chives. Garlic chives are also accompanied by a stronger garlic-y flavor.
Even the beautiful purple blossoms of the chives plant are fit to be used in any form you can imagine. Like the stem, these blossoms also have the same but mild garlic and onion flavors. The blossom bearing chive stems are likely to be harder, tougher compared to the usual stems.
Besides contributing to a dish’s taste and flavor, the blossoms are perfect for adding pops of color to a dish. Hence, they are often used as garnish. Other than that, for a flavorful chicken, we recommend roasting or sautéing the meat with the blossoms.
More About Chives: Planting, Growing and Harvesting Chives Herb
Now that we know so much about chives and how to incorporate it in many dishes, it is time we know that this particular plant can be grown very easily. Sure, it can be bought easily from a nearby store but it will be a treat for those interested in gardening.
Chives are perennial plants that grow during the cool winter season. They need to be planted in early spring.
How to Plant Chives
Chives can be grown both indoors and outdoors. Any place with ample amount of sunlight will be perfect for growing chives. It is not that these plants are not able to grow in shady places – but you will get the best harvest if the spot is sunnier. The growing process will also be much faster with the right amount of sunlight.
Besides the usual gardening landscapes, container gardens will also prove to be good for chives. If you are planting the chives indoors, make sure to plant them near the windowsills.
This is, of course, one of the most important parts of growing chives. Chives require the soil, in which it will be grown, to be damp, fertile, rich and well-drained. It may be that the spot you have chosen has a huge amount of clay in the soil. This dense soil can be turned well-drained by mixing some sand with the soil.
Acquire some well-composted organic matter. 4 to 6 inches of this substance needs to be combined into the soil before you start planting. To each sq. foot of the area, proceed to add 2 to 3 tbsp. of all-purpose fertilizer. Now, all of this will need to be well-incorporated into the soil to a depth of 6 to 8 inches.
You should do this a few weeks prior to the planting so the soil can adjust properly. Remember to keep the pH of the soil neutral or close to neutral.
When using chive seeds, 8-10 weeks prior to the last expected frost, you will need to start the seeds indoors. This is done so the seedling has considerable growth (2 inches at least) before it can be transplanted into the garden. However, only when the temperature is between 60°F to 70°F, that is when you should plant the chives seedlings.
You could also plant the seeds directly into the soil, but the temperature should be the same as the ones mentioned above. When you plant the seed, make sure it is ¼ of an inch deep with 4-6 inch space between each planted seed.
How To Grow Chives
Once the seed has been planted, like every other plant, you will need to tend to it once in a while. The soil will need to be watered regularly. Keep in mind that the soil will need to be moist but well-drained. Avoid over-watering and flooding the plants altogether.
When the plants are about 12 inches tall and 12 inches wide, you know that the plant has reached full size. Chives are perennial, meaning they last for a long amount of time. For their proper proliferation, they will need to be divided after every 3 or 4 years.
Chives are known to be good insect repellents – they keep away many insects and flies from other attacking the plant. In the very process, plants surrounding them also receive protection from these insects. So, feel free to plant them near other plants such as those of tomato, cabbage or carrots.
To prevent weeding and to keep the moisture intact, use mulch every once in a while. To each sq. foot of the growing area, you may add 1 tsp. of the fertilizer in the months of May and July. Before the blossoms begin to ripen, we recommend getting rid of it altogether – the seeds are likely to spread throughout the garden and overpopulate it with its kind.
How To Harvest Chives
When harvesting the leaves, use garden shears or simple scissors to cut it, keeping at least 2 inches from the soil. Start from the outer part of the plant and work inwards. However, do not cut all of the plant in one go. Whether you have cut it all or not, there is no need to stress because the plant will re-grow during the next growing season.
You will know the plant is ready to be harvested when its length is about 6 inches. In the first year, you should harvest the plant only about 3 to 4 times. After this, you can harvest the plant almost every month depending on your need.
The plants are likely to blossom from May to June. Harvest them during this time, cutting from the base of the stem. The stem can be eaten but as we mentioned before, it will be tough. So, it is often not used in dishes. The flower, however, may be used as you like.
You may save your harvest from going bad by having it frozen or dehydrated. They will last for a lengthy period of time if these two techniques are applied. One thing about the dried or dehydrated chives – they will not retain much of their flavor once they undergo the drying process.
Now, that was everything you need to know about chives! From growing to using them in your dishes, you will be pleased to know what satisfaction they bring! It really seems like fruits of labor have come to bear. However, this may as well apply to all plants grown at home. Hence, we like t encourage everyone to join gardening because nothing gives greater happiness than that!