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Old August 23, 2013   #1
cythaenopsis
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Default Making the most of your chives

As a few others have said, "Chives are one of the easiest herbs to grow." They are incredibly resilient.

I love chives. They're one of the perfect herbs in my book. Imparting an onion flavor without overpowering food and leaving onion breath.

I was given a pot of chives and hadn't much of a clue about how to grow them. I'd keep them outdoors in the warm months, then bring them inside in the winter. I'd keep them growing up until sometime in late December, when I'd significantly curtail watering and let them fall back. Then in mid February or so, I'd start normal watering again and they'd kick back into action.

The thing is, I wouldn't use chives on absolutely everything. Mostly with eggs, potatoes, sauces and soups. The plant would grow far more chive leaves than I'd use. Seeing so many of them eventually yellow and shrivel up seemed like such a waste.

I tried culling the crop at the peak and then drying the chives, but they'd taste very weak in comparison to fresh picked. Then one day I heard about freezing them. So that's what I did. Using scissors, I cut a large number of chives about 1-2" from the base, lined them up in several bunches, and then trimmed them down with the scissors to get this:



I then dumped the chopped chives onto wax paper, which I then folded up and stowed in a slider ziplock bag with moist of the air pressed out. This went into the freezer on top of something flat. A few days later, I took it out and grabbed a pinch of chives for an egg I was going to enjoy. The chives thawed out quickly and had a nice strong smell about them. Perfect! A week later, I found the chives to be essentially in the same condition. It didn't look like the freezer had wicked away much moisture. It looks to me like the perfect chive storage solution.

Basically about a week after I did this, the chive plant was already showing some robust growth. Pretty remarkable. I may have to do another culling next month. Looks like I'll have a really good supply of chives going forward, if I keep this up.
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Old August 23, 2013   #2
tekaha
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great idea! i have a pot of chives going gangbusters right now so i'll freeze-dry them per your instructions. they grow right back again, right?
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Old August 23, 2013   #3
cythaenopsis
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^ There's a ton of stuff on-line about trimming back chives, which I read recently. Some people trim it right down to the base, while others suggest either 1" or 2" above the base (never pull a chive so that it pops out of the ground, with the whitish end showing).

I didn't feel right about buzzing off the whole crop in one fell swoop, despite having seen photos of people doing this. So what I did was a kind of "large chive" trimming (it took about a good 15-20 minutes, because I was slow and deliberate). I'd find a cluster with the thickest and longest chives and trim those off, leaving the smaller ones behind. You'll inevitably trim off smaller ones, but that's OK. I just think it's a good idea to leave a healthy cluster of chives behind, because they'll be more effective at photosynthesis than a bunch of chive stumps. The bulbs generally keep an ample supply of resources so that photosynthesis probably isn't critical... still, I found that after trimming, quite a number of the existing chives grew a bit faster and a little wiry. Within about a week, the "bush" was noticeably denser so the chives were feeling pretty good.

I grew mine for several years with not even a drop of fertilizer. This particular time around, every so often when I've got some fertilized water left over from my tomatoes (all of the reservoirs full), I toss that extra into the chives. WOW, did that give 'em a kick, especially when a heavy rain came a few days later--they popped into overdrive. I probably wouldn't do a major cutting but 2 or 3 times a season, one month spaced apart, as long as they're full and lush when you start trimming.
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Last edited by cythaenopsis; August 23, 2013 at 07:06 PM.
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Old August 23, 2013   #4
Salsacharley
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I've got some chives growing with some purple basil in a container. I just grow them for their flowers. Every now and then I'll pluck some and eat them just for the mild onion flavor.

You've inspired me to take it to the next level...actually harvesting.

Thanks,

Charley
p.s. I like your scissors.
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Old August 24, 2013   #5
KarenO
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Excellent! works beautifully with many herbs, tarragon, rosemary, thyme. better than drying as they taste fresh! great post.
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Old August 24, 2013   #6
cythaenopsis
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Salsacharley View Post
I've got some chives growing with some purple basil in a container. I just grow them for their flowers. Every now and then I'll pluck some and eat them just for the mild onion flavor.

You've inspired me to take it to the next level...actually harvesting.

Thanks, Charley

p.s. I like your scissors.
Good to hear it. Yeah, the scissors are pretty cool--the handles separate, so you can use the back ends as surrogate screw drivers or for prying things open. I'm a MacGyver kind of guy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KarenO View Post
Excellent! works beautifully with many herbs, tarragon, rosemary, thyme. better than drying as they taste fresh! great post.
KarenO
Thanks! I'm thinking of growing some thyme and Thai basil (smaller leaves); I had tried them in the past, but they're not nearly as resilient as chives so they require more care (I've had thyme die out on me a few times--no pun intended).
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