Chives

Chives are probably hands down the easiest thing to grow in your kitchen garden. They are also one of the first green leaves to pop up in spring lasting until frost in the fall. You can harvest from them over and over again too. They are prolific growers, if left to go to seed chives will grow pretty much anywhere their seeds take root. This means I have volunteer chives that come up near the sidewalk, our backyard patio, and in containers that were adjacent to their original pot. Leaving a few to flower is beneficial for bees, who seem to love chive flowers as much as I do. (Not to mention the flowers can be added to salads.) You can grow 4 plants per square foot.

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Chives are in the Amaryllidaceae family, better know as the onion family and are considered a perennial. They are perfect for container and small space gardens. They prefer growing in temperatures between 40°F – 85°F with their optimum being 63°F – 77°F. Chives want at least 6 inches of soil for healthy roots, but I have seen them grow with much less. (They will thrive with a minimum of 6 inches of soil.) You can bring them in when the weather turns cold to keep harvesting, by placing the container in a sunny window.

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The entire plant is edible, which is a huge benefit to cut down on food waste. When harvesting, cut near the base, about 1 ¼ inches above the root with sharp garden shears or a sharp hori hori knife. I prefer using sharp garden shears so I don’t crush and bruise the leaves. The same goes for cutting your chives for meal prep. Always use a sharp knife to avoid smashing and bruising the leaves. You can cut them into small pieces or on the diagonal for bigger pieces. I love to cut on a diagonal my chives and green onions, it makes them seem even more special. Be mindful of how much you add to a dish, it can go from perfection to overwhelming if you are not careful. Try adding flower heads to a salad, or even take the individual flowers and use those as a garnish.

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Chives are part of “fines herbes” which is a combination of herbs used a lot in French cooking and includes parsley, tarragon, and chervil. When including chives in dishes it is best to add them at the end of cooking or just before serving as they tend to lose their flavor when heated up. They are better served raw, also losing the majority of their flavor when dehydrated. 

Some good flavor pairings for chives are: beans, potatoes, salads of all kinds, soups, eggs, parsley, tarragon, chervil, garlic, carrots, stews, stir fries, pasta, mushrooms, corn and many more.

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Chives are related to garlic and other alliums and share the same anti-cancer compounds.  Chives are also considered nutrient dense as a source for Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin A. They are a source for the minerals calcium, copper, iron, potassium, selenium, folate and others. Something to think about here is that to get enough quantities of these nutrients you would have to eat a LOT of chives. This isn’t something I would recommend unless you absolutely love their flavor, but like I said before the line between a great tasting addition to a meal and overwhelming it can be a small amount and happens quicker than you think. 

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I have shared many reasons why chives are a great addition to your kitchen garden, herb garden or container garden. They add a fresh subtle touch of flavor to most meals spring through frost. I hope you give them a try this year, save some seeds to share with others or grow in new locations for yourself. Let me know in the comments your favorite uses for chives or any growing experiences you’ve had with chives. 

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Should you need help with your kitchen garden or are interested in cooking classes book with me today!

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Published by

Candice Cullen ~GROW. COOK. NOURISH. Garden To Table Academy

Certified Holistic Nutritionist/Nutritional Consultant, Culinary Nutrition Expert & Instructor, Certified Functional Nutrition Coach, Rouxbe Certified Pro Level Cook, Certified Gardenary Kitchen Garden Coach/Consultant, Plant-Based/Plant-Forward, Plant Food Expert

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