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Chives are one of the best known herbs. They are a perennial and easy in grow. Leaves can be harvest as soon as large enough and will reshoot.
Outside: April - July
Indoors: Virtually all Year Round
Chives are probably one of the easiest perennial herbs to grow in either pots or in the herb garden. They are very versatile plants and are often grown for both culinary and ornamental purposes. Their mild onion flavoured leaves can be used for salads, soups, omelettes and many other dishes. The garlic flavoured variety is also a popular addition to some of the more exotic dishes. The delicate purple flowers are edible and make a nice salad decoration or garnish.
You can start the plants off early by sowing seeds indoors during March and April ready to plant out at the end of May, or when all danger of frost has passed. Sow the seeds lightly onto a tray or pot of damp compost and cover with 1cm of fine sifted compost. Germination will require a temperature of 15-21C (60-70 F). Ensure the seed compost does not dry out. Seedlings should be ready for planting out after about 4-6 weeks.
Growing in pots
If growing chives in pots, ensure they are planted into fertile soil and placed in a warm sunny position. Keep the plants well watered during dry spells and feed at 2 weekly intervals with a general liquid fertiliser. The stunning flowers make pot grown chives very suitable for patio decoration.
Growing in beds
Plant the seedlings into outdoor beds or the herb garden, ensuring the soil is rich in organic matter and is free draining. They can also be planted amongst other plants or used for decorative edging. Plant out the seedlings 20cm - 30cm apart and keep well watered. A liquid feed fertiliser can be applied every 2-3 weeks to keep the plants growing strong and healthy.
Chives are the smallest member of the onion family and will continue to grow throughout the season and into the following seasons. Don’t allow the flowers to set seed, otherwise they will stop growing. Keep the plants watered and remove any weeds from around the base as soon as they appear.
Pests and diseases
Chives are generally disease free but in exceptional circumstances they can be affected by downy mildew. To avoid this ensure plants are grown in a warm, sunny position and soil drainage is adequate. Aphids and sometimes thrips can be a problem, especially in the spring but they can be removed by simply applying a jet of water. In extreme cases of infestation you can use an insecticidal soap. Rarely, the onion maggot can prove troublesome and if this should be the case, it’s best to remove the bulbs at the end of the season and dry them before replanting in the following spring. Alternatively, start afresh with new seed.
Harvesting and storage
Chives can be harvested continually throughout the summer and autumn months. Use a pair of scissors to cut the leaves at around 2cm from the base. The leaves will regrow providing a continuous supply. Fresh leaves are always best but they can also be chopped and frozen for use throughout the winter months.
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