Common Name: Chives
Botanical Name: Allium schoenoprasum
Place of origin: Chives are native to Asia and Europe. They became popular during the Middle Ages in Europe, but have been used in China for over 4,000 years.
Ideal growing conditions: Chives are considered a cool weather plant and they grow best in spring and fall, and often go dormant in the hottest parts of the summer. Plant chives in full sun or light shade, and for best results make sure the soil is fertile and moist. If you are starting with seeds, plant them a few inches apart and once they sprout, thin them to 6 inches apart. Chives are a very hearty plant and are typically drought tolerant, but to get high yield water it frequently.
Parts of the Plant to use: After planting chives wait 30 days to harvest it from transplanted plants, and 60 days from seeds. To harvest chives, cut the leaves about 2-4 inches from the soil. You can harvest chives 3-4 times their first year, and monthly in subsequent years.
Benefits/Properties: Chives are typically used as a topping, but are also a nutrient-dense food. They contain Vitamin A, K, and C but you would need to eat a lot of them to see the direct benefits of these vitamins. There are several preliminary studies that show some of the properties found in chives can help improve memory, help you sleep better, and improve eyesight. However, as with the vitamins, you would have to eat a significant amount of chives to get these benefits.
Suggested Uses: Chives are primarily used as garnish, and they add a mild garlicy, onion flavor.
Culinary: For breakfast, try adding chopped chives as a garnish for scrambled eggs or bagels and cream cheese. Another fun way to use chives is by making chive blossom butter which can be used on bread or as part of a charcuterie board.
To make chive blossom butter, you will need ½ cup salted butter, softened, ¼ cup chopped chive blossoms and chives, and salt. Whip the room temperature butter with a fork until it is fluffy. Clean and dry the chives and blossoms, and then chop them finely with scissors. Next, mix the chives into the butter and add salt to taste. You can either use it immediately or store it in the fridge.
Anything else: Fun fact! Chives are a member of the onion family.