Chives are a perennial that grow to a height of about eighteen inches and produce beautiful pink blossoms. This garden plant is considered an herb and grows from bulbs which can be obtained from your local garden shop. Chives are a member of the onion family but, unlike onions, they are not grown for their bulbs. Instead, chives are grown for their flavorful hollow, spiked leaves. Chives can be grown in a window box or in pots with a 6″-8″ diameter placed on a sunny windowsill, patio or balcony. You can grow this plant from seeds, but it will be 90 days or more before it produces clumps of bulbs large enough to produce useable leaves.
Chives are used in many dishes to add flavor. Some common uses for chives are to flavor baked potatoes, soups, casseroles, dips and salads. The leaves can also be chopped and used to make herb butters and sauces.
Chives prefer full sunlight and well-drained soil. Add a one inch layer of compost or dried manure to the soil and till to a depth of about 12″. The compost or manure will aid in drainage. The bulbs should be planted in early spring after the thread of frost has passed. Bulbs of chives purchased from your local garden will usually come in clumps. Plant the clumps of bulbs about 8″ apart and about 5″ deep. Space the clumps about 12″ apart to allow for air circulation. Keep the soil moist but not wet around the plants.
This plant matures in about 60 days when grown from bulbs. The leaves are ready to harvest when they are bright green in color and about 6″-12″ tall. Use scissors to harvest chives by clipping the leaves off about 2″ above the surface of the soil. Simply rinse the leave, drain and clip into short sections or bits.
Chives contain good amounts of vitamins A and C, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. Chives also contain goodly amounts of thiamine and niacin which are necessary for the function of the nervous system and metabolism.