Notes from Herb Heaven

Chives

 

Indigenous to Europe and North America and a perennial of the onion family, A.tuberosum is the garlic chive with white flowers, which grows taller than the regular chive, A.schoenoprasum, that has purple-pink flowers.

Chives are relatively unfussy and will grow in high and low temperatures. They grow very easily and like fairly rich soil and full sun, although they grow well in partial shade. Mulching in the hot summers will suppress weeds and keep the soil moist.

Plant about ten seeds together in a clump, 1 cm deep. Keep soil moist during the 2 to 3 week germination period. If you wish to sow the seed in seedbeds or boxes, transplant them into the garden when they are about a month old. Space the clumps about 20cm apart. The chive clumps can be divided every two years. Apply a liquid fertiliser once a month.

Give them a regular "haircut" as they go into decline if allowed to produce too many flowers, which should be removed when they are young to promote new growth, but keep a couple of plants in flower for use in salads or to dry for winter floral arrangements.

Chives can be grown very successfully in containers. If you are going to pot some up for use in the kitchen, use potting soil and some organic fertiliser.

The onion garlic taste makes them eminently suitable for savoury dishes, especially with eggs, cheese, cream cheese, jacket potatoes, cheese sauces, savoury pancakes, soups and stews. Add the chopped chives in the last five minutes of cooking.

Chive flowers are edible and make a pretty addition to salads.
Snip chives into butter to use with meat, poultry or fish.

 

Cheese scones

200g/2 cups plain flour 

½ tsp salt
1 tsp bicarb of soda
2 tsp cream of tartar
40g/3 Tbs butter
50g/ ½ cup Cheddar cheese grated
1 tsp chopped chives
125ml milk

Sift all dry ingredients together into a bowl. 
Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles 
fine breadcrumbs. Add the cheese and chives 
and bind with milk to give a soft, 
but not sticky dough. 
Turn on to a floured board and roll out 
until it is 1.25cm thick. 
Cut into 5cm rounds using a pastry cutter. 

Place on a greased baking tray and bake in a hot oven 
220°C for 10 minutes until risen and golden brown.

Chives cleanse the blood and are a good tonic. 
Like garlic, they help against colds and flu.

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