Friday, June 28, 2013

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)

Chives is a popular herb commonly grown in gardens around the world.
Botanically, the plant is known as Allium schoenoprasum (AL-ee-um skoy-no-PRAY-sum).
Plants grow a foot or more tall and produce several 1-inch diameter lavender flower heads throughout the spring and early summer. The leaves are round and hollow, similar to other members of the genus.
Harvest chives by clipping individual leaves with a sharp scissors. They have a mild onion flavor and can be used fresh from the garden in a wide variety of recipes. They may also be dried or frozen for later use, although dried chives lose a lot of their flavor. The small bulbs are generally not eaten.

The chopped leaves are often added to green salads, egg dishes, potatoes, vegetables and soups. The flowers are also edible.

Chives are perennial and multiply fairly rapidly, eventually forming large clumps. It may be necessary to divide the clumps every few years to encourage new growth and to keep them from getting too dense.
The species is believed to have originated in Asia, but has been transplanted around the world by gardeners. They are recommended for USDA Zones 3-9, and grow year-round in the warmest parts of this range. Full sun exposure is best and they are drought-tolerant once established.