Chives
Early spring brings the onion flavored greens of chives. Snipped and sprinkled over everything from scrabbled eggs to salads! How can you resist this super simple, delicious culinary herb in your garden?

* Perennial in growth, this herb reaches a height of 12-18 inches.

* Globe shaped flowers of pink to purple grace this onion flavored herb in mid spring. If you grow garlic chives, you will find star shaped florets of white or mauve in late summer. The leaves of the onion chive are hollow and the garlic chive leaves are flat. Both plants will die back in the fall/winter depending on the growing zone you live in.

* Chives have an onion flavor while the garlic really do taste and smell like a mild garlic!

* You can direct sow your seed up to 8 weeks before the last frost for your area. Chives need darkness to germinate. Protect your young plants from frost if they should germinate before the final frost in the spring. You can divide your chive clumps every 3 years or so. You will know when the right time to divide is when you see them crowding each other out. Gently dig out the clumps and divide the small bulbs into sections of 6-8 bulbs. You are now going to replant these sections into spaces 8-12 inches apart.

* While chives will grow in partial shade, they perform the best in full sun.

* Be sure your soil is well-drained and apply a compost of ½ inch around the plants in mid-summer.

* Pests, what pests! I have never seen or heard of anyone having pests on chives!

* Disease is only obvious if you have a soggy soil, high humidity or you let your plants become overcrowded. They can then develop a fungal disease.

*Harvest after leaves reach 6 inches on either type of chive. Make your cuts no higher then 2 inches from the soil. Chives grow faster if harvested in this manner. Using scissors is the easiest way to harvest chives. After your chives bloom, cut all the chives down to 2 inches from the soil. Don’t worry, they will recover and will thank you by producing even more leaves later in the season!

* Preserving chives is either done by freezing in ice cube trays (with water of course) or by drying. However drying will produce colorless leaves and really lack in flavor.

* Use chives in soups, salads, eggs, just about anywhere you want that slight onion or garlic flavor. Why not throw in a chive flower too! Yes, you can eat the flowers! If eating flowers doesn‘t appeal to you, why not try making vinegars or making a mildly flavored extra virgin cooking oil?


Tips
Chives are the most rewarding and carefree herb you can grow! When nothing else in spring is flowering, there are the chives showing off for everyone to see. Depending on the growing zone you live in, you may be able to harvest up until Christmas! Living in zone 7, I have to admit that I feel smug when I talk on the phone to my northern relatives and tell them I just harvested chives from the garden while they are buried in snow!

THINK HERBS!