Grow your own chives

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010
It is sometimes assumed that everything in the kitchen garden has to be sown or planted in the spring. In fact, any number of vegetables and herbs can be started much later - and it is infinitely better to grow a succession of produce anyway because this avoids a glut.The recipe at the end involves a really easy-to-grow ingredient - chives Allim schoenoprasum.
Our forefathers were well aware of the fact that chives can bestow very useful wellbeing benefits. Over five thousand years ago, they were being used in China for both culinary and medicinal purposes. Later, for hundreds of years, Romany gypsies used them as an aid to fortune telling. In Medieval times it was believed that hanging a bunch of dried chives by a doorway warded off evil - and today some floristry designers mix dried chive flowers in fresh and dried bouquets.

The Romans, who knew a thing or two, believed that chives could relieve a sore throat - but documentation of the efficacy seems rather sparse. Modern studies indicate that, like other plants in the allium family such as onions, garlic and leeks, chives contain antibiotic properties. There are also indications that chives contain cancer-fighting compounds that appear to produce beneficial results in the cases of stomach, prostate and colon cancers. They are also reported to have beneficial effects on the circulatory, digestive and respiratory systems - and they contain a useful amount of Vitamin K and lesser, but still beneficial, amounts of vitamins A and C.

Chives grow wild in many areas of North America. The bulbs grow in tight clumps which are easily propagated by division. Because they are vigorous and multiply quickly, they can rapidly colonise a plot and so many gardeners prefer to plant them in a pot, tub or other container. They can be grown from seed, germinate quickly and could be ready for picking within six weeks. Sow the seeds (in potting) compost) in a large container - at least 12-15 inches deep - and keep the soil damp until the sprouts are a couple of inches high.

Alternatively, buy a small pot of chives from a nursery or greenhouse and carefully transplant the entire clump into the larger pot. Keep the soil moist for first week after transplanting. Chives can be grown on, in light, warm conditions - such as on a window sill - well into the winter. They are perennial and, outside, will die down and disappear at the end of the season, re-growing as soon as the soil warms up the following year.

Chives have the additional advantage of being almost entirely disease-free - although they occasionally suffer from onion fly if planted near a crop of onions. The mauve flowers are very attractive but are best nipped off at the bud stage if the leaves are going to be picked for culinary purposes. Alternatively, plant several pots - and set two or three aside for purely decorative purposes!

HADLOW COLLEGE offers a wide range of career (including degree) and recreational Horticulture courses.

Telephone: 0500 551434


Chive Dressing

2 tbls of Chopped Chives
150ml pot of Low Fat Natural Yoghurt
1 tbls of Light Mayonaise
½ tsp Dried Mustard Powder
A squeeze of Lemon Juice
Salt & Pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients together and use as a delicious low calorie salad dressing

Fresh Chive & Cheese Scones

8oz Self Raising Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
½ tsp Dried Mustard
Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
Sift ingredients together

2ozs Sunflower Margarine
6 fl ozs of milk
2 tbls of Finely Chopped Chives
2ozs Red Leicester Cheese


  1. Rub in margarine to sifted mixture.
  2. Add the chives and cheese.
  3. Stir in enough milk for a soft but not wet dough.
  4. Knead lightly and cut into 8 rounds or squares. Sprinkle with grated Red Leicester.
  5. Cook in a pre-heated oven 220deg C for 20 mins until golden brown