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Allium schoenoprasum is a perennial native to the Orient. They have been used as food for 5,000 years, first by the Chinese and then the Greeks. Marco Polo brought them to Western attention and Europeans began cultivating them in the 16th century. Colonials brought them to the New World. Chives were supposed to have magical powers, so the colonists hung them in their houses to protect themselves from diseases and evil spirits.
Harvest and Use: Chives keep a neat appearance throughout the growing season and their blossoms add color to the landscape in late spring. Their blade-like shape add variety to the garden. They can be used in crafts as they dry well and do not lose their color when dry. They are very nice in dried arrangements.
Begin snipping the blades when they are about 6" tall. Don't snip the entire clump all at once. If you wish to have some during the winter, dig up a clump and pot it up, but do not take it in until it has died back and the roots have frozen. Two weeks in warmth is enough for the plant to put out new shoots. You can dry or freeze chives, but to my taste frozen or dried chives are chewy and lack flavor.
Medicinally, the leaves are mildly antiseptic as they contain a sulfur-rich oil found in all Allium. When sprinkled on food, they stimulate the appetite and promote digestion. They are high in vitamin C.
Cultivation and Propagation: Chives are hardy to zone 3 and do well in most soils and full sun. In companion planting, they are said to prevent scab when near apple trees, and when next to roses, black spot. It is a good idea to divide chives every 3 years.
Chives are not difficult to start from seed. Seeds require darkness, moisture, and temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees. Sow ¼" deep. Seedlings can be transplanted 4 weeks after germination. For faster results, buy plants.