Chives are a popular herb to grow in the culinary herb garden, vegetable garden, permaculture garden, or orchard. Here are five reasons why you should consider growing this herb.
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Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) are in the allium family, which includes onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, ramps, and many more. They will grow best in zones 3-9. I love seeing the pop of delicate purple around my yard when chives are in full bloom during late spring. Here are five reasons why I like to grow chives.
1: Chives are edible.
Chives, first and foremost, should be in every culinary herb garden. Chives have an onion scent and a mild onion flavor. The extent of my experience with chives growing up was eating them on a famous fast food restaurant’s baked potato with sour cream. My favorite potato chips were sour cream and chives. My favorite chip dip was sour cream and chives.
The things kids can eat without gaining a pound!
Roasting potatoes in chive butter–by the way–is exquisite. Also, I love this idea to host a potato bar party with chives as an essential ingredient.
Based on all of that yumminess, I had the feeling that chives went best with sour cream and potatoes. I didn’t know how to use them any other way, and besides, I had never seen fresh, real chives.
Then I started growing them in my garden, and I wondered what other ways I could use this flavorful herb. I have since learned about their versatility.
Chopping the grass-like leaves, I take advantage of them in the early spring when their flavor is the most potent, adding them to salads, omelettes, cottage cheese, roasted vegetables, and butter.
There’s no need for measuring, just toss a handful of chopped chives into whatever you’re making to spruce it up.
Chives can also be dehydrated easily for all of these same uses throughout the winter. Just chop them and dehydrate at your oven’s lowest setting, or in the dehydrator until brittle. In my dehydrator, it takes around two hours.
Did you know that chive blossoms are edible, too? I love to trim the purple petals over salads for a pop of color and a hint of onion-y flavor.
Try equal parts chive blossom vinegar and olive oil as your salad dressing. Mmmmm.
2: Chives make a good ground cover.
Chives are a clumping, grass-like plant that can be attractive in the edible landscape. They can quickly fill empty spaces. Try substituting chives for the typical landscape plant called Liriope.
Chives are even deer-resistant and can take occasional foot traffic.
3: Chives attract pollinators.
Chives are an important nectary in the late spring, feeding pollinators and helping to attract them to the garden. In general it is important to provide food and shelter for pollinators, and I always provide lots of plants for them. In this way, the mini-ecosystem reduces my work in the garden. More pollination means better fruit set.
4: Chives deter pests.
Because of their onion-y scent, chives (and any other member of the Allium family) will help repel pests that do not like the strong scent. This is one of the reasons why I plant chives at the edge of my permaculture vegetable garden, as well as under my fruit trees. See: How to Build a Fruit Tree Guild and The Cherry Tree Guild.
5: Chives are a good fertilizer.
According to Edible Forest Gardens, chives are a nutrient accumulator of potassium and calcium, two important nutrients for growing crops. Nutrient-rich chive leaves can be chopped and used as a green mulch under important crops to fertilize. That is one of the reasons why I plant chives in my strawberry bed.
You can see now that chives are a really useful herb that can be used in many different ways around the garden, in addition to being a delightful culinary herb. Chives are really easy to grow from seed. Once you have chive plants growing, let the flowers go to seed and you’ll find surprise chive plants around your yard for years to come. Alternatively, let the seed heads dry, and collect the seeds to sow them wherever you’d like. Here’s more about growing chives.
Need more ideas for growing a permaculture garden?
- 6 Maps for the Permaculture Farm Design
- 6 Flowers to Grow in the Vegetable Garden
- 7 Reasons to Grow Calendula
Would you like to learn more about using herbs to improve the biodiversity of your garden, reduce maintenance, and increase yield?
You’ll find loads of information just like this in my book, The Suburban Micro-Farm.
What’s your favorite reason to grow chives?