Sunday, August 6, 2017

My Herbs - Part 4 - Chives, Germander, and Winter Savory


Chives are members of the onion family.  My chives are common chives, Allium schoenoprasum, or onion chives. They have hollow leaves and a slight onion-y taste.  I use thin slices in scrambled eggs and on top of baked potatoes with sour cream.  The flowers are edible too, but I have never tried them, leaving them for the pollinators.  Mostly I grow chives because the flowers are just so darn pretty!   The individual flowers form a small purple globe.  They are one of the first flowers of spring. 

They are easy to grow, and thrive in my herb garden, even though they prefer a bit more moisture than the other (Mediterranean) herbs there.  There were one of the first herbs I planted, and I didn't know at the time their preferences differed from the other herbs.  They like their soil well drained, and a bit of compost now and again.   Perennial herbs, chives will die back in areas with freezing winters. 

I am not sure when my singular "chive" planted in 2013, became "chives," but they have reached the point that they now need to be divided.  They need to be divided every 3-4 years, so mine are just on time, or a year too late, depending on how you look at it.  The clumps get larger, with more bulbs each season, as well as growing a bit too freely for some gardeners from seed.   I do deadhead my chives, and this year saved the seeds. Not sure what I'll do with so many baby chive plants though! 

I have garlic chives on my birthday list!  They have flat leaves, with star shaped white flowers in the fall.  The flowers don't form globes. Their taste is more garlic-y than onion-y.  


I had never even heard of germander (also known as wood sage) until I spotted it at the Grange Co-op a few years ago.  It grows in a ceramic pot on my deck.  Germander is, yet again, a Mediterranean herb!  It's easy to over-water Mediterranean herbs in glazed pots, they don't dry out like terracotta.  Like a lot of herbs it needs to be cut back close to the soil after blooming.  You can also prune it back into shrub shapes, for a low hedge around a flower bed, or in a knot garden. Pollinators just love germander!  The flowers lasted a long time.  It's one of the "just because it's pretty" herbs I grow.  I would never ingest germander, it can cause serious, even fatal, results.  


There are two types of savory, summer and winter.  Summer savory is an annual, while winter savory is a perennial, which is why my savory is winter; I love perennial herbs! 

Actually, my savory is a creeping winter savory.  I love how it looks draping over the edge of its ceramic pot.  It has very small, very shiny leaves.  I haven't had it long enough for it to bloom its white flowers.  It dies completely back in winter.  I have never tasted savory!  It is supposed to be rather spicy and peppery.  I added some gravel to the soil before planting, to make it more like its "home" in Mediterranean areas! 

Winter savory is not only attractive to pollinators, the "good guys," but repellent to harmful insects. 
Creeping winter savory is harder to find then the usual winter savory, but my favorite nursery carried it.  The Grange Co-op get in a lot of unusual herb plants from nearby wholesale nurseries.  I don't just say that because I work for them, it's true!  I bought my very first original herbs for my herb garden there years before I started working for them, for $1.00 each.  They've gone up a little, but still a bargain, especially when you consider they are perennials!  

Not much left as far as my herbs go... feverfew, and yarrow, medicinal herbs.  I thought I had an endless supply of herbs!  I do have an endless list of "what to buy next" herbs though!  Some need to be ordered online, so that's why they are on my birthday wish list.  My daughter says my list is "boring."   

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