Chives (Alium schoenoprasum) are miniature onions. They are clump-forming perennials requiring very little care. In fact they are so easy-going that it only makes sense to have at least one clump of them. One clump isn't enough for us so we made a whole row of them along a stone walkway. Chives are a perfect border plant whether in a veggie or a flower garden. Growing only about a foot tall they are pretty along with violas or upland cress (both of which freely seed themselves alongside ours).
|Chives in spring|
They will supply you through an entire growing season. Chives start growing first thing in spring and keep going until a hard frost does them in. Toward the end of April they are the size you see in the photo. These are just a few inches tall- you can use the spiky leaves at any height.
When they go to seed they put out pretty globe-shaped purple flowers. We pluck the flowers and put them on our salads. The stalks of the seedheads are a little tough (although they are edible), so we add them to the compost pile.
When the plants have come into full flower I take a scissors to them and give half the hedge a crewcut, cutting them close to the ground. Fear not, they will grow back very quickly, and without the seed heads. When the ones with the haircut are tall enough to use I take my scissors to the other half of the hedge. This way there are always some to pick.
If you want to increase your patch or grow them elsewhere, either divide the clump or leave the flowers on so they go to seed. The seeds start up easily and are easy to transplant. To divide a clump, push a shovel down into it, digging out the section you want to move.
|The chive hedge later in the season|
A side dressing of compost or manure once a season will keep them happy. This also acts as a mulch and you won’t need to water them unless in case of a drought.
We chop chives into short pieces about 1/4” long, and use them in many cold and cooked dishes. They are a great addition to green salads, and to potato, tuna, and other cold salads. We use them in soups, stews, and other cooked dishes. And they make a nice garnish on a sour cream-topped baked potato. I find that cookbooks are too sparing of them with recipes often calling for as little as two tablespoons. Nah! For us, no less than a fat handful will do. -jmm