Friday, February 5, 2010

Easy Medicinal Herbs - Chives

Did you ever think of chives as being medicinal? Well, not in the true sense of making medicine from it, but it does have health benefits and medicinal properties.

Chives, or Allium schoenprasum, is a member of the onion family.   They're so easy to grow that even a new gardener can succeed with chives; just sow the seeds in the spring in full sun in a rich, well-drained soil, and then harvest in the summer or early the following spring.  It takes a small amount of maintenance with just medium watering.  Planting it near your roses can prevent black spot, another added benefit. They also repel Japanese beetle, a real problem in my area. Chives will multiply and the clumps can become large, so lift and divide about every three years. They also do well in containers, and then you won't have any "spreading" worries, but they will still need to be divided on occasion.

Chives, similar to garlic, contain a mild antibiotic and are beneficial to your circulatory system.  They are rich in vitamin A and C and contain lots of calcium and iron.

When harvesting chives be sure to cut the spear(s) all the way to the ground.  If you don't, that cut end will die and look similar to dead grass. Cutting to the base also allows for the new growth to break through easily.

Chives don't dry well, as other herbs do.  I found the best way to store and keep them is to freeze them. Either store them in freezer-safe containers, or put cut chives in an ice cube tray with a small amount of water.  When the cubes are frozen, place the cubes in a freezer bag.  When you need some chives, remove a cube or two and thaw in a strainer.  It's almost like fresh!

Besides all of these wonderful qualities of chives, I just really enjoy their pretty little globes of flowers. The color is an added bonus to my garden!

Don't forget to visit An Herbal Bedfellow for healthy recipes made with herbs, and also my newest blog:
Bits, Tales, and Yarns - my newest writing adventure.

1 comment:

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Wow, Jane Marie! I never knew this! Thanks for sharing.


Sheila :-)