What do chives and coriander have in common? They’re both a tangy treat for your taste buds! Australian veg gardeners should definitely include these two awesome plants in their planning. We’re going to kill two birds with one stone and give you a quick lowdown on how to grow and use them both. Then, it’s just a matter of getting started and repeating the rewards in the months to come!
I have to admit that this is one of my favourite veggie / herb garden standbys. There are two distinct types of chives – the regular chives and garlic chives, and both are delicious! Use the leaves snipped with scissors (rather than chopped) into salads or add them to stir fries when they’re almost cooked for a sharp, fresh flavor twist.
I sometimes add finely snipped fresh leaves to soups just when they’re ready to serve, but you can also add them towards the end of cooking much as you might use leek leaves. Want to add a bit of green to potato salad? Chives are a winner here! Get creative and use them in any dish that will benefit from the delicate onion or garlic-onion flavours they impart.
In the garden, there are several major plus points to growing chives.
- The seeds germinate easily and well
- You can sow them at any time of the year (tropics might want to wait for the dry season)
- The plants are perennial, so once you’ve got them, you’ve got them!
- They don’t need tons of water
- Chives are rarely attacked by pests
- They make pretty flowers – very nice in salads or left to bloom in the garden
- Related to the previous point, they can be used as edible ornamentals – very nice as an edging in flower beds or where you want grass-like tufts with the added benefit of blooms.
What more could you want? Easy, low-maintenance and delicious chives are a pleasure to grow and versatile to use in the kitchen.
Coriander is marginally more challenging to grow than chives are – specifically, there’s a distinct sowing and growing season – but so rewarding that you won’t regret adding them to your garden-fresh feast of flavours. Apart from using the leaves, you can harvest seeds and make spice out of them – so this is one of the few herbs that is also a spice.
The seeds and the leaves are used differently from one another – and some people even call coriander leaves “cilantro” to distinguish them from the seeds which are almost always just called “coriander.”
You’ve probably seen coriander leaves being used a lot in restaurant dishes, especially at the rather smart eateries, so you’ll have a head start on how to eat them, but just in case we can add to your repertoire, here are a few ideas.
Coriander leaves are usually used fresh or just barely wilted and they’re much more than just a garnish. Salads are an obvious place to use them, but they’re also fabulous added to soups just before serving. On the subject of salads, they’re super in both green and pasta salads. Are you into Thai cuisine? Cilantro is a great flavour match in curries and noodle dishes. I also found an interesting recipe that suggests making a coriander leaf paste with garlic, peanuts, lemon juice and coconut milk. This one is new to me, but it sounds interesting, so I’ll be trying that next!
Prepare coriander seeds by giving them a light roasting. This makes them crispy and easy to grind and easier to chew if you’re planning on using them just cracked but not ground. We often see whole or cracked coriander seeds being used in pickling and salting processes and they certainly add flavour.
Ground coriander is extremely versatile and works well in any dish where you’d also use cumin. So, think curries, potato bakes, and kebabs to name but a few. As a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to using spice, I was surprised to see that some people use coriander in sweet bakes and cookies – but the flavour is quite mild, so that’s one more to add to my repertoire real soon! Do you already do this? Tell us about it!
Coriander is definitely a lover of cooler weather, so plan for autumn sowing. You can sow all the way through to spring, but if your plants are growing in a hot part of the country or a warm season, they’ll need a cool position in your garden. Luckily, they quite like a bit of light shade, so that’s the problem solved!
This spicy herb also isn’t as drought tolerant as chives. If the soil gets dry, it tends to set seed and finish its growing cycle sooner. It doesn’t want to be soggy, but it will like soil that’s always on the moist side – another reason to choose light shade since you won’t have to water as frequently. Of course, full sun is also fine in cool seasons.
Chives are incredibly unfussy about soil, but I’d definitely go for a good composting when preparing for coriander. If you have heavy soil, the compost will improve drainage, and if you have sandy soil, it will help to hold water and keep the plants moist. Alternatively, you can grow coriander in pots, but do give them fairly frequent liquid feeds in that case since nutrients drain out of potting soils quite fast. As a final tip, stagger sowings so that you have a steady supply of fresh coriander leaves. The seeds come up quite easily, so just sow a few at a time, and you’ll be good!
Ready to Get Started?
You may want to wait a little before you sow your coriander, but the season is getting close, so there’s no harm in getting the seeds now. As for chives, they’re good to sow now and you’ll get years of pleasure from them, so sooner is better!
As you may have guessed, finding coriander and chives seeds won’t be hard to do. Yup! We’ve got ‘em at Seeds of Plenty – and since both are so popular, we also have plenty of seeds! Get yours now!