Not only is it easy to grow fresh chives in your yard, they will return every year for you! A perennial plant, chives are a beautiful addition to any garden. You can grow them in pots or as edging for your garden.
Chive plants have tall thin leaves that smell oniony when you cut them. They have white or purple flowers in late May or June. Both the leaves and flowers are edible.
Fresh chives are delicate, and should be used at the end of cooking (or left raw) to provide a mild onion or garlic flavor. Use chives in oils, butters, vinegars, and on any food you think could benefit from their flavor.
Chive plants are one of the easiest herbs to grow. They like full sun, but will grow almost anywhere. They are about a foot tall and a foot across, and can repel many insect pests in the garden. Pollinators love their flowers.
You may find weeds that look like chives in your yard already. Called onion grass or wild garlic, you can eat these weeds just like chives.
Growing and Preserving Fresh Chives
Common chives are plants that have thin blue-green leaves, about a foot tall. Their flowers can be white, pink, purple or red. Garlic chives have flatter, greener, taller leaves, with white flowers. Both varieties grow well in Maryland.
Chives grow best in spring and fall, and are dormant in the heat of summer. Once seeded and growing, fresh chives will reappear each year in the same place. Sow seeds as soon as the soil is workable in the spring, and be patient, as they take some time to germinate.
Chives take almost no care. You might choose to water them in a drought for better yield. You might want to cut the flowers off so they don’t set seed and spread the plant to new areas. Chive plants are more productive if you dig up and divide them every three to four years.
Like most herbs, fresh chives are very delicate. That’s why growing your own can be so rewarding! Rather than pay high prices for fresh or dried herbs at the store, you can grow the freshest, most flavorful herbs at home.
Fresh chives do not dry well, as they lose flavor. To save chives for later, you can freeze them, or make chive butter, chive oil, or chive vinegar.
You can store your fresh chives in the refrigerator for a few days. Wrap them in a clean damp towel and store in a container in the fridge. You can also place leaves in a jar with water like flowers, and change the water daily to keep them fresh.
Cooking With Fresh Chives
Fresh chives and their blossoms can both be used in a variety of dishes. The mild onion flavor is a wonderful accompaniment to any savory dish.
Chives do not hold up well to cooking, and are best used fresh. Add them to salads, baked potatoes, as a garnish, or on any stew or roasted meat.
Add fresh chives to salad dressings or simple herb vinegars. Use herbal vinegars to add acidity to bean recipes. Chive oils and butters can impart chive flavor to roasted meats, on breads, or to cooked vegetables.
Fresh chives are delicious on potatoes. Add them to potato soups, to baked potatoes, or sprinkle on french fries. They are also great with eggs. Add them to deviled eggs or omelets.
Chives are used in Asian cuisines as well. Stir fries and potstickers benefit from fresh chives. Buchujeon, Korean chive pancakes, are made with fresh garlic chives.
Chives in cream cheese, spread on bread or a bagel, is another popular way to use chives. They are also tasty on fish dishes, pairing the delicate chive flavor with the delicate fish flavors.
The real question is, what can’t you add chives to?
Since fresh chives grow back every year, they really are one of the easiest herbs to grow. They grow in pots and in the ground, and require little care besides harvesting. Divide them every few years to keep them growing well, and share with friends!
Chives provide both habitat and food for insects in your yard, and are great companion plants for other plants. Their beauty and simplicity are another reason to grow them.
Fresh chives pair well with most savory dishes, and are easy to add at the end whenever you want extra flavor or a pretty presentation.
Fresh herbs are expensive, and fresh chives are so easy to grow. Save your money, boost your flavors, and enjoy growing this perennial herb!