Why I Love Chives
New England winters do drag on. Exactly when I feel as though the snow will never melt, chives emerge to remind me spring is on the way.
Here are some fabulous things about chives.....
- As mentioned, a welcome harbinger of spring.
- They are easy to grow. Chives thrive in gardens or in pots in full sun. Since spring is cool, watering is minimal. They are very drought tolerant. By the time the heat comes in, chives are pretty much gone.
- Spiky purple flower puffs are great in a flower arrangement.
- Every part is edible. Toss the flowers in a salad.
- As a member of the Allium family, (like garlic) they have beneficial health qualities.
- You can pluck a spike and nibble at it while reading a book under a shady umbrella.
- Animals won’t eat it. I guess they don’t like stinky breath.
- They are beautiful at every stage of life.
Tips about harvesting
- Use scissors to harvest
- Snip the leaf an inch or two from the ground. Once the leaf is cut, the edge turns yellow and isn’t very attractive. If the cut is close to the ground, you won’t notice it.
- You can use them as soon as they sprout, but I like to wait until the plants are at least a foot high. That way you need fewer spikes and the plant stays better looking for longer.
- Flower spikes are tougher. Avoid cutting them if you want flowers.
- Pick a half a dozen spikes and put them, cut side down, in a small glass filled with cool water. When you want chives, snip off what you need from the cut end & replace into the water. It will stay fresh on your countertop for a day or two or for longer in the fridge .
- By mid July, the flowers will fade and the stems will yellow. If they bother you, trim them off. Chives can be harvested all summer and fall.
Cooking with Chives
The flavor is more delicate than onions or scallions and the leaves are tender. Use a scissor or a knife to chop and add the chopped chives near the end of cooking. My favorite pairing is chives with eggs or egg whites. I snip three or four spikes and stir a tablespoon (ish) per half cup of egg whites. I toss in a few chopped (also with a scissor) tarragon leaves and steep for up to an hour to infuse the flavor.
Flower Arranging with Chives
Chives look best when paired with flowers of a similar scale. Here, I've added Johnny Jump-Up Violas, white sweet Alyssum, and yellow Calibrachoa.
For a completely different look, along with the chive blossoms and buds, I used a lavender, white alyssum, and a pine branch with tiny pine cones attached.
You can enjoy them in the garden, in a vase, and in the dish! That is why I love chives!