From seed, sow indoors and cover lightly with the medium about 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost. Plant in potting soil in a deep container or flat. Sprouting will occur in about 10 to 14 days at 60 to 70 degrees F. Set seedlings in clumps in the garden. Outdoors, seed can be sown in furrows or broadcast to grow in clumps. Chives like full sun and rich soil. They can take partial shade, but will not grow as fully erect. The leaves will die back in the summer heat but may return in the fall. Clumps should last four to five years before dividing.
Harvesting and Storing Chives
Chives can be harvested fresh for use in salads and recipes. Cut a few leaves to the base, but don’t shear the whole plant down to the base or they won’t be able to manufacture food for the roots. The flower heads can be used to make chive vinegar and the flowers can also be dried. To dry the flowers, put them in a paper bag, but leave the mouth of the bag open. Don’t tie the stems together or they may rot instead of dry. Chives can be dried by snipping the leaves as you would for a salad, and then placing them on a fine screen or nylon mesh in a warm place, out of direct light. Stir regularly for several days. When dry, seal in jars. Leaves can also be frozen in airtight bags.
Chives have the ability to “cut and come again” so trim back plants to 1 to 2 inches above the ground with a clean knife or scissors. They will regrow from the base of the plant for fresh chives all season long.
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