I just love my Lovage & Chives. It made me so happy to look at the little flower bed next to my back stoop last week and see the little plants peeking their heads through the mulch. Barely a week later, the Chives are a nice little mound, and the Lovage has a very good start on life.
Chives and Lovage are both perennials-that is they come back every year without your having to do a darn thing! You plant either, and you’ve pretty much got them for life. The same goes for Mint-but I’ve got that contained in a planter as it can try to take over your entire yard!
Chives are a sort of grassy looking clump that taste of onion. Most folks are familiar with them being used as a garnish on top of their baked potato. I like to take a few chives all summer long and cut them (with scissors) right into whatever dish I’m making. They are especially good in things like salad, tuna salad, Potato salad. .. .hmm, there seems to be a salad theme going on. Most books will tell you that chives can’t be cooked as they “lose” their flavor, but I’ve been known to toss some into soups with decent results.
Eventually Chives will put up some spiky looking purple flowers. These too are edible! If you sort of crumble them up (the flower “ball” is really a bunch of little tiny flowers all together) you can use them as a lovely lavendar accent in a green salad. Another option is to toss them into some vinegar to steep. The result will be a pale lavendar color with a slightly onion flavor.
The chives I have (which were up at the other house for 3 years, then dug up to bring here-the new homeowners didn’t WANT them. Ha!) are just plain chives, but you can get other types such as Garlic Chives. Obviously, those have a garlic flavor.
The care of chives is easy. Plant them somewhere that gets average rain. Don’t mow them over or you’ll have to wait a while for them to grow back. That’s pretty much it. They die back in the fall here and then just start growing again in the spring! How easy.
Where most folks have heard of Chives, not so many have heard of Lovage. It took me a year or so to find someone local who had Lovage seedlings, but I feel it was very worth it.
Lovage is a very old herb-quite popular in colonial times, and it tastes of Celery. For anyone who has very tried to grow Celery (quite the chore I tell ya) Lovage is a welcome releif. You plant it once and let it grow. That’s it!
The stalks are sort of like a drinking straw, so you won’t be using these to fill with peanut butter or cream cheese for the kiddos (although apparently the “straws” are lovely in a bloody mary). Where these shine are in dishes where you want the flavor of Celery. Soups. Salads. Stir-fry. Just step outside, snip off a few leaves and snip them into your dish! Done!
Now lovage is not a particularly ornamental plant-and it gets taller each year for about 3 years until it reaches it’s full growth (about 3 feet tall) so consider carefully where you place it so that it doesn’t overshadow anything that needs direct sun.
I have mine planted right next to the back stoop where it is easy to step out-even in bare feet-and grab what I need.
I love both of these plants for the oomph they add to my cooking and their ease of care. Although I did have to purchase both plants initially (you may be lucky and find someone willing to divide their clump of chives) they were of minimal cost-less than $10 together, and will last me for years and years. I call that frugal!
So, what other perenial foods are out there that I should consider planting? I’d love to hear the experiences of others.