I have several favourite perennial herbs but Chives, in all its forms, has to be the one herb that I have planted most, finding homes in at least 5 different locations – a sign that it’s well loved and well used. It’s resilient, largely maintenance free and it doesn’t need a lot, if any care.
In fact, it’s so easy to grow that once you have an established clump you can simply divide it and pot it on or add it to another area of the garden or vegetable garden. It’s a truly versatile plant and is happy in most situations as long as it gets a good bit of sun. It makes for a great container plant also and is largely drought tolerant.
The beauty of this plant, however, is that it has a dual purpose. Chives are not just delicious, having a light onion or garlic taste, but they’re also beautiful. A combination of upright, dark green, spike-like leaves combined with sumptuous lilac-purple or white lollipop or star shaped blooms (depending on which type you buy), making it perfect for decorative purposes as well as culinary.
To start your seeds, sow anytime now up until the end of July. Sow seeds in good seed compost and sow thinly, around 1-1.5 cm deep. Cover lightly with compost and water well. To avoid disease and fungal problems, thin seedlings allowing a few centimetres between plants and give good ventilation.
Chives are a year round crop if grown indoors on the windowsill. Sow seeds at regular intervals, as per the instructions above, and use them as a cut and come again crop.
Add your chopped chive leaves to salads soups and other dishes, or mixed with butter over hot fresh vegetables. Garlic chives leaves can be used in the same way but I find that they are an excellent addition to sandwiches that benefit from a light but noticeable garlic taste. The flowers of Chives are also edible and really add a splash of colour and taste to salads and other dishes.
Two to try:
•Chives – This common staple of the herb garden is traditionally grown close to the home for ease of use. A light onion taste, both leaves and flowers are edible.
•Garlic Chives – Flat leaves with rounded tips that have a light but delicious garlic taste. Decorative with white flowers.