Chives: Onion (Allium schoenoprasum var. album)
Harvesting & Storage
Culinary & Medicinal
Nutrition & Companion Planting
Native Range: Balkans, Siberia, Asia Minor
Ease of Growing: Easy
Grown as: Perennial
Maturity (Blooms): April to May
Hardiness: Chives are a very hardy cool weather crop and can tolerate frost.
Crops: Spring Transplant, Spring
Growing Season: Short, Long
Growing Conditions: Cold, Cool, Warm. Chives prefer cool conditions and don't particularly like heat, but will grow in heat if you provide more moisture. It's a pretty adaptable, independent plant, and will grow almost anywhere without a lot of care.
Outdoor Growing Temp: 40°F - 85°F
Min Outdoor Soil Temp: 50°F. Chives take a long time to germinate and do best in soil between 60 to 70˚ F. Like other alliums, chives don't germinate as well at higher temperatures.
Start Indoors: Yes
Start Outdoors: Yes
Light: Full sun to part shade. 6 hours daily (Cold, Cool, Warm). Full sun.
Water: Medium. Chives are pretty drought tolerant and don't need a lot of watering. However the soil should be kept moist for maximum productivity.
Feeder: Light. Like other members of the Onion family, it is a fairly light feeder.
Suitability: Tolerates light frost, Tolerates hard frost
Small Gardens?: Yes
Containers?: Chives are an excellent candidate for container growing. Plant in a container at least 6" deep. Chives grow best in well-drained soil, so be careful not to overly water your plants. Make sure they have access to sunlight as well as partial shade. They can be potted and moved indoors to provide a fresh supply for cooking all year.
Attracts Beneficial Insects?: Yes
Sow Depth: ¼”
Produces: dark green, hollow blades with an onion-like flavor, and purple globe-shaped flowers.
USDA Grow Zone: 3-9
Garden Uses: Group, mass or use as an edger in herb gardens and vegetable gardens. Also effective as an ornamental (leaves may still be harvested) in rock gardens or border fronts. Also may be grown in pots, or divisions may be potted up in fall, for overwintering and continued harvest on a cool kitchen window sill.
Soil pH: 6.0-7.5, Ideal 6.5-7.0. Chives will grow almost anywhere, but do best in a rich, moist soil with lots of organic matter. It doesn't like wet soil, so make sure the soil drains well.
Compost (Nitrogen), 2" in top 6" of soil, 1 time: Prepare the soil by incorporating 2˝ of compost or aged manure into the top 6˝ of soil, which is where most of their feeder roots are to be found.
Chives can be transplanted 6-8" apart as soon as they grow big enough to handle safely, and there is no chance of frost.
To direct sow, plant the seeds after the last frost of spring 1/4" deep in rows 18" apart, thinning to 6-8" apart as soon as the seedlings appear. Chives also grow well as a container plant. For companion planting benefits, plant chives with carrots; this improves the carrots' flavor and production.
Water Needs: Moderate. Chives are pretty drought tolerant and don't need a lot of watering. However the soil should be kept moist for maximum productivity.
Fertilizer Needs: Light. Like other members of the Onion family, it is a fairly light feeder.
Weeding: 1 time a week. This plant is quite low growing and doesn't produce a lot of foliage so is somewhat vulnerable to weeds. Chives must be weeded regularly to prevent them from getting slowly swamped by weeds. This is particularly important while the plants are young.
Watering: Water, 1 cup(s) per plant, 1 time a week. Like most members of the Onion family, chives will rot if constantly damp so take care not to over water. Water regularly, especially in the summer to keep plants growing strong. If watering seeds, use lukewarm water to keep the soil temperature around 70˚F.
Side Dressing: Compost tea, 1 cup(s) per sq.ft., every 4 weeks. If your soil isn't very fertile you may want to give the plants an occasional feed of compost tea. It's best to apply the compost tea to the soil around the plants, rather than on to the leaves themselves (you usually eat them raw).
Storage Req: Drying
Storage Temp: 50-65°F
Storage Length: 1-180 days
Fresh leaves of Chives can be frozen. Fill an ice cube tray with clean chopped leaves and cover with water. Once they are frozen you can put the cubes in a plastic bag.
Storage Req: Freezer
Storage Temp: 32°F
Storage Length: 1-180 days
Seed Viability in Years: 1-2 years
Germination Percentage: 50%
Leaves: raw, cooked or dried for later use. The leaves have a mild onion flavor and are an excellent addition to mixed salads, they can also be used as a flavoring in soups etc. The leaves are often available from late winter and can continue to produce leaves until early the following winter, especially if they are in a warm, sheltered position.
Bulbs: The bulbs are rather small, and rarely exceed 10 mm in diameter. They can be harvested with the leaves still attached and be used as spring onions. They have a pleasant mild onion flavor.
Flower: The flowers can be used as a garnish in salads etc. The flowers of this species are rather dry and less desirable than the flowers of many other species.
The juice of the plant is used as an insect repellent, it also has fungicidal properties and is effective against scab, mildew etc. The growing plant is said to repel insects and moles.
Avoid planting near beans and peas.
The Health Benefits of Chives
Although chives don’t look much like onions as we commonly think of them, they are actually the smallest member of the onion genus, Allium. With the full scientific classification of Allium Schoenoprasum, this tiny vegetable has a wide range of uses and benefits for human health. This particular herb (as it is commonly used) is native to Europe, North America, and parts of Asia, but is now widespread across the globe, as it has become a very popular addition to many culinary dishes. Chives are bulbous plants, but their stems are long and hollow, which is the edible part of the plant. These hollow stems are commonly sliced and added fish, soups, sauces, salads, Mexican cuisine, potato dishes and a wide range of other meals. The unopened flower buds can also be ground into a useful spice, but the most commonly seen chives are freshly chopped stems.
The taste of chives isn’t very similar to typical members of the Allium genus, and they are generally considered to have a mild, pleasant flavor that is subtle in culinary applications. In terms of medicinal use, chives have been used dating back to the Roman Empire, but they were likely utilized far before that. They have similar medicinal properties as garlic, although not nearly as potent, but their more palatable nature makes them more versatile in food dishes, so the benefits may be more accessible than other members of the Allium genus. Now, let’s take a more in-depth look at the important health benefits of chives.
Health Benefits of Chives
Digestive Issues: The allyl sulfides and other unique organic compounds found in chives deliver similar benefits to the body as garlic, and as such, can effectively ease digestive discomfort. Furthermore, chives have natural antibacterial qualities that can eliminate a wide range of bacteria, particularly those in the salmonella family, which can wreak havoc on your gastrointestinal system. More specifically, chives can increase the nutrient uptake efficiency of your gut, ensuring that you get as many of the nutrients from your food as possible.
Heart Health: One of the most important organic compounds found in chives is allicin, which has recently been linked to reduced levels of “bad” cholesterol in the body and improved heart health. Allicin is also connected to lowering blood pressure; when combined with the vasodilatory effects of the potassium found in chives, this unassuming herb can have a major impact on reducing cardiovascular strain. Furthermore, another organic compound found in chives, quercetin, has been directly connected to lowering cholesterol levels and plaque in the arteries, effectively preventing atherosclerosis and lowering your risk for stroke and heart attacks.
Immune System Booster: Most of the attention gets thrown at the organic compounds in chives, but the traditional nutrients are important too! The high levels of vitamin C found in chives help to boost the efficacy of the immune system by stimulating the production of white blood cells and stimulating the production of collagen, which is an essential component in the creation of new blood vessels, cells, tissues, and muscles.
Bone Health: There is a wide range of vitamins and minerals found in chives, but one of the most important is certainly vitamin K, an essential nutrient that isn’t widely found in many common foods. Vitamin K is very important in the maintenance of bone mineral density and bone integrity. As we age, our bone mineral density begins to drop, leading to conditions like osteoporosis and exacerbating inflammatory conditions like arthritis. High levels of vitamin K, like those found in chives, can help to produce osteocalcin, which is a key part of maintaining mineral density in the bones.
Cancer Prevention: One of the most exciting areas of research for all members of the Allium genus is the role of quercetin in preventing certain types of cancers. Although research is still ongoing, early results show that quercetin can effectively prevent a wide range of cancers, including breast, prostate, colon, lungs, and ovaries. The antioxidant activities of vitamin C and vitamin K contribute to this prevention as well, helping to reduce levels of free radicals in the body that can hasten the spread or appearance of cancerous cells. Zeaxanthin and lutein, two other antioxidant compounds found in chives, have been linked to lower chances of oral cancers.
Vision Health: The carotenes found in chives, namely lutein and zeaxanthin, are directly responsible for reducing oxidative stress in the ocular system and delaying the appearance of cataracts in the eye. They also help to slow or prevent macular degeneration, keeping your eyes healthy well into your old age.
Birth Defects: Another of the essential nutrients in chives, folic acid, is essential for pregnant mothers who want to ensure the health development of their infant. Folic acid prevents neural tube defects in newborn infants, and chives is a rich source of folic acid for conscientious mothers.
Detoxify the Body: Chives have mild diuretic properties, and combined with the other free-radical scavenging and antibacterial qualities, chives are a wonderful way to detoxify the body. By stimulating urination, chives can help the body get ride of excess toxins, salts, water, and even fat, keeping the organ systems running smoothly and clearing out any dangerous substances that could do us harm.
A Final Word of Warning: Chives are not typically considered to be an allergenic substance and very few reports of negative reactions exist. However, an excessive amount of chives, with a high concentration of powerful organic compounds, can cause stomach discomfort. If you are allergic to onions or other members of the Allium genus, consult a medical professional before adding chives to your regular diet.
Carrots: Chantenay Red Cored (Heirloom) (Daucus carota)
Carrots: Cosmic Purple (Heirloom) (Daucus carota)
Carrots: Danvers (Heirloom) (Daucus carota)
Carrots: Rainbow Blend (Heirloom) (Daucus carota)
Carrots: Scarlet Nantes (Heirloom) (Daucus carota)
Carrots: Tendersweet (Heirloom) (Daucus carota)
Tomato: Amana Orange (Heirloom) (Lycopersicon lycopersicum)
Tomato: Beefsteak (Heirloom) (Lycopersicon lycopersicum)
Tomato: Green Zebra (Heirloom) (Lycopersicon lycopersicum)
Tomato: Sweetie Cherry (Heirloom) (Lycopersicon lycopersicum)
Tomato: Yellow Pear (Heirloom) (Lycopersicon lycopersicum)
Broccoli: Waltham 29 (Heirloom) (Brassica oleracea var. italica)
Broccoli: Purple Sprouting (Heirloom) (Brassica oleracea var. italica)
Broccoli: Green Sprouting Calabrese (Organic) (Brassica oleracea var. italica)
Cabbage: Early Jersey Wakefield (Heirloom) (Brassica oleracea var. capitata)
Cabbage: Late Flat Dutch (Heirloom) (Brassica oleracea var. capitata)
Cabbage: Red Acre (Heirloom) (Brassica oleracea var. capitata)
Cabbage is considered one of the oldest cultivated vegetables, since historians trace it back to 4,000 BC in China. The Romans also cultivated it and praised it for its healing qualities; philosophers Pythagoras and Cato both made the lowly cabbage the subject of a book. Jacques Cartier brought the first cabbage to America in 1536. Cabbages were quite popular in colonial America, being pickled and preserved in every possible way to provide food for the winter.
Cabbage, Chinese: Pak Choi (Heirloom) (Brassica rapa var. chinensis)
Mustard: Red Giant (Heirloom) (Brassica juncea)
Mustard greens originated near the Himalayan region of northern India, where they have been growing for thousands of years. Chinese, Japanese, and African cuisine also make use of this peppery vegetable. Though not particularly well known in most parts of the United States, mustard greens are a traditional part of culture in the southern region.