There are several different ways to harvest chives, and anyone can do it in their own homes. Chives are popular among home gardeners because they are easy to care for.

These hardy perennial plants grow year after year, even after harvesting. Here is how you can easily harvest them to use in the kitchen.

How to Harvest Chives

Young leaves are tender with flavor, so harvesting them at this stage can give you juicy leaves. However, you can choose to clip them at a later stage as well. You can start harvesting chive leaves using the ways mentioned below.

– Look For the Right Chive

To begin harvesting your chive plant, look out for chives that are at least seven inches long. Snip these leaves gently at the soil line. Do not tug at them forcefully as they can loosen the plant from the soil. Start from the outer layer of the bunch and then work your way inside.

– Sterilize Your Cutters

Sterilize your knives or shears before you snip the leaves. This will prevent the spread of bacterial or fungal diseases on the chive plant. Keep the shears sharp to place perfect cuts at the base of the plant.

Gardening experts recommend using the best quality kitchen scissors, garden snips or shears. A sharp tool ensures you get a quick and perfect cut of the herb.

– Choose the Right Time of Day

The right time to cut chives is early in the morning. With temperatures being relatively cool, you can prevent damage to the chives due to heat stress.

– Remove the Entire Length of the Leaf

The right way to harvest chives is to remove the entire length of the leaves. It isn’t a good practice to just snip the tip. Instead, the whole leaf from the tip of the soil needs snipping away. This will help the plant to bring in more volume and fresh leaves.

– Stimulate New Growth

Get rid of the woody flower stems and the old leaves to stimulate new growth and bring about tasty leaves sprouting.

Wait until the plant blooms and the flower begins to fade away. At this stage, cut the entire plant completely to the ground with pruners or long-blade shears. This is also a way to stimulate new growth.

– Keep the Plant in Growing Condition

When your chive plants are one year old, you can start harvesting them every month. Harvesting on a monthly frequency keeps the herb plant growing well. As perennial plants, they regrow every year. Divide the clumps that grow once every two years.

When to Harvest 

As important as it is to harvest right, it is also important to know when you should do it. Harvesting chives at the wrong time can limit its produce and prevent the perennial plant from delivering the herb to you year after year in decent volume.

Here is when you need to cut your plant.

  • Harvest completely during its long harvest period.
  • Begin when the tiny green spikes of the plant come out in spring.
  • Ensure these spike-like leaves are at least 3 to 4 inches long when you harvest.
  • Doing it the right season will ensure you will have more herbs to pick.
  • Harvest can continue until the first frost of fall occurs.
  • In warmer places, harvest can continue year-round.
  • If you started your chive from seeds, wait sixty days, but ensure that it has grown at least six inches high. Harvesting of indoor chives can happen all year round.
  • You can harvest two-year-old chives every month. This frequency keeps the herb growing and healthy.

How To Know When Are Ready for Harvest

Chives can grow and spread fast. From seeds, it takes around four weeks for germination to occur. Mature leaves will take two months to sprout.

With this timeline in mind, your chive plant grown from seeds needs harvesting after sixty days. At this stage, you will find at least four leaves at a height of about 10 inches. This is the perfect time to harvest the herb.

If you have transplanted your chive, the herb will mature in thirty days. You will notice tender sprouts, which indicates that it is the perfect time to harvest them.

How To Pick Chives

If you want to use fresh leaves of chives in your kitchen and cooking, you can harvest small quantities. Pick chives easily with your hands for your immediate use.

Tender chive leaves are soft to pinch. Using just your thumb and forefinger, you can snip and grab a little bunch from the plant. Pinch from the base of the plant in a quick motion from the side.

Do not pull the leaves upward as this could loosen the plant in the soil or may even tug it out. Break the leaves gently with your finger if you need it for garnishing a soup or an omelet.

How to Harvest With Herb Snips

For big harvests of chives, it is better to use herb snips or garden snips. Using an herb snip, you can cut groups of chive leaves for use in the kitchen. Cut them off from the base of the plant. An easy way to do this is to secure the bunch first and then snip them off all at once.

You can wrap all of the leaves with a rubber band or string before you cut them at the base. Tie them tight, bunching the leaves together. Then place a clean cut sideways at the base of the plant with your herb snip.

 

Harvesting Chives To Promote Growth

Though chives grow fast, the right way to harvest them will ensure their growth is intact. Here is how you need to harvest chives to promote the herb’s growth.

  • Cut off all dead and yellowing dry leaves, right up to the base of the herb.
  • Prune regularly. This will ensure new growth will develop from the base sections.
  • Do not pull the chive in entire clumps from the soil line. This will damage the root system and prevent any future growth of the herb.
  • Avoid harvesting when seedlings are nascent and small. Wait until the chives mature to cut them.
  • Trim chives for new growth. The best way to ensure your chive thrives every season of the year is to trim it.
  • The right time to trim chives is when the first flower buds develop.
  • Trim half of the plant first and let it develop before trimming off the other half. This way, you will have a continuous supply of fresh harvest of chives.

Can You Harvest Seeds?

With mature chive flowers in the plant, you can harvest seeds for a fresh new batch of the herb. Select ripe flowers which come with an off-white hue.

Place the flower ball into a bottle or plastic plate and shake to separate the seeds. Store seeds for up to one season or plant them immediately.

How to Harvest Flowering Chives

Chives have a long harvesting period. You can harvest them even when the plants are in flower. Here is how you can do this:

– Sift Woody Stems

Blooming flowers with their woody stems can get in the way of harvesting chives. Sift through them gently to get to the leaves.

– Don’t Overdo the Harvest

Keep the harvest light as blooming chives require volume to protect them. Cut a few leaves from the base right above the soil line.

– Harvesting the Flowers

You can also harvest edible chive flowers. Pop the flower head off the stem of the plant and use your thumb and index finger to break their link with the plant. Fresh chive flowers are excellent for garnishing.

When Not to Harvest 

There are certain conditions and times when you should consider not harvesting your chive plant. Here is a list of things to look out for.

  • Do not cut your chive plants if they have not yet attained a height of seven inches.
  • Do not cut or harvest when the weather is too cold. Freezing and frost conditions bring in shock to the plant and the herb may end up dying. The last cut should be just before the frost of fall.
  • Do not harvest until early spring. Fresh tender leaves sprout at the beginning of spring when the weather is warm.
  • Avoid harvesting before thirty days if you are growing your chive herb from cuttings.
  • If you have grown your chive plant from seeds, avoid cutting before sixty days.
  • Avoid harvesting stalks when the chive is blooming for cooking purposes. These stalks are generally rough and do not come with good taste.

Storing

Chives are herbs that can add flavor to your dishes. However, they lose their crispness within 24 hours after harvesting. Here is how you can store chives and keep the bunch fresh for a long time. You can extend its shelf life using the following methods:

  • Refrigerate them. You can then use them for 48 to 72 hours.
  • Store at a relative humidity of 90 percent at 34 degrees Fahrenheit. This will keep it crisp for up to 14 days.
  • Use an herb storage container to keep the herbs fresh for longer. These containers ensure there is moisture and air to keep the chives hydrated.
  • Though chives are best when used fresh, freezing them is another alternative. Chop the leaves finely and pack them in an ice cube tray. Top with water and freeze.

– Why Harvest Chives

Harvesting chives comes with multiple benefits for us humans as well as for the plant. Here are some of the advantages that come with harvesting these herbs.

  • Chives are plants that are edible in their entirety. You can use the long leaves, the flowers, and the bulbs to garnish soups, omelets and salads.
  • Harvesting them at the right time not only gives you a supply of the herb but also aids in the growth of the plant.
  • Following harvesting with pruning keeps the herb in shape and prevents overgrowing.
  • Chives grow aggressively fast. Harvesting will prevent overcrowding of your plants.

Conclusion

Let us summarize the tips and tricks we learned about harvesting this aromatic herb.

  • Do not pull the chive leaves out of the soil as this will kill them.
  • The right time of the day to harvest chives is in the mornings when it is not too hot.
  • Cut the leaves as close to the soil line as possible using a sharp tool.
  • Harvest chives during spring. The last cut should be before the first frost arrives.
  • Harvested chives are best when used fresh. However, you can also refrigerate or freeze them for a longer shelf life.
  • Trim chive plants for new growth.

Harvesting chives is not difficult, so go get those shears out and snip them away to garnish your salads and soups.

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