Chives are an easy to grow perennial herb. They explode with beautiful purple flowers early in the spring, making them both ornamental and delicious. Chives are great for cooking, and can be used in tons of recipes. Plus, you can harvest them all season long.
Harvesting chives sounds easy, but can be tricky if you’re not sure how to do it. The first few times I harvested chives when I was a newbie, I thought I needed to dig up the individual bulbs (like the green onions you buy at the grocery store).
My chive plants are mature and very dense, making the task of digging up only a few bulbs pretty much impossible. When I tried it, there was so much woody old growth included, I couldn’t even eat them. It was gross. Plus, most of the tiny bulbs were cut or crushed in the process of digging them up, and that wasn’t pretty. Eek!
As it turns out, I was making the task of harvesting chives way too difficult. After doing some research, I learned that you don’t harvest chives by digging up the bulbs, you harvest them by cutting the foliage. But you can’t harvest just any foliage. If you harvest at the wrong time, or the wrong types of leaves, you’ll end up with inedible woody sticks.
How to Harvest Chives
The best time to harvest chives is either before they flower in the early spring or after they’re done flowering. I do both. Plus the flowers are edible too, and delicious in salads. Some people even use chive flowers to infuse olive oil or make herb butter. Yum, I need to try that!
Harvesting chives before they flower: Look for tender, lush green new growth in early spring. Yellowish leaves, thick leaves, flower stalks, and old growth will likely be woody and inedible. To make chives easier to harvest in early spring, cut the entire plant down to the ground in the fall.
Harvesting chives after they flower: Deadhead chives after the flowers have faded in late spring, and cut back the entire plant to within a few inches of the ground. A sharp pair of garden hedge shears makes this job super easy!
This is the perfect time to collect chive seeds to grow new plants, or share with a friend. Chives are easy to grow from seed. I grow two types, regular chives and garlic chives. Just keep in mind that chive seeds are only viable for about a year.
After a few weeks, you’ll start to see tender and delicious new growth that’s perfect for harvesting. This tender new growth can be harvested throughout the growing season.
To harvest chives, simply grab a handful of the tender, green foliage, and cut it off with clean shears. I use my kitchen shears for this job, but you can use a sharp pair of garden snips, or even bonsai shears.
Related Post: How To Freeze Chives
Chives are delicious and can be used in countless recipes (I especially love them with eggs and in soups). Harvesting chives may take some trial and error, but once you have harvested them a few times, it’s easy to identify the right type of foliage to harvest.
More Garden Harvesting Posts
- Harvesting Parsley Fresh From The Garden
- When To Harvest Onions From Your Garden
- Harvesting And Storing Basil Leaves Fresh From The Garden
- How to Harvest Tomatillos
- How To Harvest Lavender Fresh From The Garden
Share your tips for harvesting chives, or your favorite recipes in the comments section below