Chives: Add Onion Zest to Your Salads and Soups

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) are a member of the onion family. This hardy perennial herb with the hollow grass-like, dark green leaves is a must for all indoor herb gardens.

They make a great edible houseplant that is frequently used for flavoring omelets, soups, stews, salads, stir-frys, vegetables, cheese dishes, poultry, and seafood.

You can grow them right on a sunny windowsill and harvest them as needed. They require minimal care and can be started from seeds or from transplants from the garden center.

How to Grow Chives Indoors

Sow at any time if the plant is always to be kept indoors. Sow seeds shallowly (1/4" deep) in light soil that is rich in organic matter in small pots or starter trays. Keep plants in moist clean soil and place in a warm, well-lit area of the kitchen. Seeds should germinate in 14-18 days and mature in 80-90 days.

If you don't want to wait that long, get the young potted herb plants and repot them.

Watering: Water and let soil dry out between waterings, then water when the soil feels dry just below the surface.

Fertilizing: For indoor plants, using a liquid fertilizer once every four to six weeks will improve growth.  Do not use fertilizer during winter when light is poor. The plant will go dormant and may even die back some.  Resume feedings in the spring  when plants rally back  with new growth.

Temperature: Keep temperature around 65 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit with a few degrees lower at night.

Containers: Terra-cotta pots are ideal for this annual herb, but you can use any kind of container you like. Containers should be 8 to 10 inches deep and have several holes in the bottom for drainage, and soil should be well drained, not heavy. Use a good houseplant potting mix.

Harvesting: Clip the herbs with scissors for as often as desired, leaving about 2 inches for re-growth.

Mix clean chopped leaves with light vegetable, canola or grapeseed oil and fill ice cube trays two-thirds full with mixture and freeze. Store frozen cubes in freezer-safe bags. Frozen herbs will retain flavor up to one year.

When flowers develop, pinch them off to make the plants continuously produce new flavorful leaves and more compact growth. You can keep the flowers for seeds.

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