Chives are a member of the onion group and grow wild in many parts of Europe and North America, although they originate from China. They’ve been collected from the wild for centuries but weren’t cultivated until the Middle Ages. There are a number of different hybrids available including a ‘garlic’ variety.
Chives are easy to grow and produce purple or white edible flowers that can be used to garnish a meal, or dried and used in a flower arrangement. The bright green leaves are used in the kitchen and their delicate onion flavour enhances any meal.
Chives are primarily a culinary herb, but being part of the onion family, they do aid digestion, and they have also been used in helping fight cold and flu symptoms, although onions are more effective.
Chopped chives can be added to any recipe that needs a mild onion flavour. They are especially good when added to potato salads, but can also be stirred into many recipes. The edible flowers will add a pretty garnish to any meal.
Tip: To avoid chopping your fingernails into the recipe, use a pair of kitchen scissors instead of a knife!
Grow some chives at home and have these tasty and handy herbs at your fingertips evey day. When you buy them in plastic bags in the supermarket, they are often quite expensive and perhaps non-organic – but the one issue, that is really something we can avoid at the moment, is that they are often sold in plastic bags… aaargh, more plastic.
Oh, and of course, they don’t stay fresh for very long. As soon as you open the bag, they will start deteriorating and need using straight away.
When you have a pot of chives on the windowsill or in the garden, you can cut exactly how much you want and they are always fresh and organic!
Tip: Cut chives from the outside of the plant so that the centre leaves get a chance to grow taller.
Chives are ideal for edging paths and borders and also make an excellent companion plant, deterring pests such as carrot root fly.
Chives are one of the few plants in the onion family that will grow readily from seed, and there are different varieties. Have a look in your local garden centre where you may be able to grab a ready grown plant or two as well – saving you the time to start off your own seeds.
Although, having said that, there is something very rewarding about growing your plants from seed. You could order them online as well of course. Thompson & Morgan are a good supplier but they only deliver to the UK so if you are buying online from outside the UK, there’s always Amazon of course!
(This link will take you directly to a ready grown plant, but while you’re there, type ‘chives’ into their search bar and you’ll find seeds as well.)
Chives are a perfect pot plant to keep on the windowsill. You don’t need any garden space at all, so no excuses here 🙂
Happy herb growing!
P.S. There are some useful tips and hints for growing chives in 20 Everyday Herbs (listed on our Herb Books page)