Those who are so fortunate as to have a grandmother, aunt, mother or sister who dashed from her kitchen to chop a few chives to add to your salad, will hold forever one of those cherished memories which is often recalled as the inception of the interest and fervor of herb gardening. Grown close to the kitchen, the edible light purple blossoms of the onion chive will appear in spring and early summer. They are a lovely addition atop a salad.
Chives (Allium schoenoprasum, Family: Liliaceae or Lily) are perennial, and are closely related to onions, scallions, garlic and leeks. They can be easily grown from seed or nursery plants. While onion chives offer a delicate grasslike tubular leaf, the garlic chive has a broader, flatter blade. Divide in spring or fall (after blooming is finished) and set clumps 6 inches apart in a sunny, rich and well-drained bed. Never cut your chives partly down the leaves; cut them all the way to the ground before chopping into the tiny pieces you will use in your kitchen.
Cooks know that chives should be added in the last moment of food preparation, since cooking destroys the appearance and flavor. Fresh chives are famous for inclusion in fines herbes, a mixture of equal parts tarragon, chives, chervil, and parsley; used with eggs, cheese dishes, meats, fish, poultry, sauces, butters, and soups.
Gardener's Tip: Chives have long been used as companion plants to roses, since they are believed to reduce or prevent black spot.