Common name: Chive
Scientific name: Allium schoenoprasum
Uses: Culinary, decorative, and medicinal.Fresh leaves are excellent for making herbal butters and vinegars. They also may be used in salads, soups, and soft cheese and on grilled meats. Chives are one of the fines herbes and can be chopped and mixed together with chervil, parsley, and tarragon to make a savory yet mild blend of herbs to flavor cooked chicken and fish, salads, steamed vegetables, soups, and omelettes. A good source of calcium, chives are believed to strengthen nails and teeth when consumed. The plants are grown for their attractive flowers and can be planted in containers. Chive is said to have some medicinal qualities.
History: Like garlic and leeks, chive belongs to the onion family, growing wild in northern Europe, Greece, and Italy. Ancient civilizations are thought to have been familiar with it, but rumors claiming that chives "send up hurtful vapors to the brain" fortunately were unfounded.
Description: This bulb plant has hollow, dark green leaves which are cylindrical and very slender, tapering to a point at the top. They are 6 to 10 inches long with a surrounding stem at the base. Flowering stems shoot up from the bulb. The small, pale purple flower forms a dense, globular umbel at the top of the stem. The 1/2-inch-long petals have bluish purple anthers.
Plant type: Perennial
Hardiness: Hardiness zone 3.
Height: 18 inches
Width: 1 to 2 in. the first year from seed, reaching 10 to 14 inches.
Soil: fairly rich, well-drained soil with a pH of 6.
Disease: None noted.
Cultivation: Chive is easily raised from seeds. Sow in shallow drills in fine soil. After seedlings pass the "delicate grass" stage, transplant them into a sunny spot in the garden. Planting in groups of up to 20 plants gives a nice clumping effect. After the tops wither, divide the clumps into 2-inch segments. If chive clumps get too large, the centers may die out. Add decayed manure to the soil occasionally and keep well watered for fuller plants.
Companion planting: Chive grown near the roots of apple trees helps prevent apple scab. It also helps prevent black spot in roses. Carrots grow larger than normal when planted with chive.
Propagation: Division in spring (every three years).
Flowering period: June
Garden notes: After planting chive in a random pattern in the garden, we decided the plants would be more effective in a clump.