Growing Chives

ChivesA member of the Allium family, most home gardeners are growing chives for the mild, onion-flavored leaves, although the plants also produce attractive and edible purple flowers in the spring. They are easy to plant and make attractive borders around herb gardens. Plants grow to 1-1/2 feet tall and self-sow readily. Perennial in zones 3-9.

Site Preparation:

Each spring, work aged compost into your garden plot. Chives grow well in full sun, ample water and rich, sandy soil. The plant will tolerate frost but not prolonged freezing temperatures. They are frequently grown as annuals in climates with winter temperatures below 32 degrees F.

How to Plant:

Chives grow easily from seed planted directly in the ground or from divisions. Sow seeds 1/2 inch deep in early spring. Seed germinates best at 70 degrees F. with germination usually occurring in 14 days. Chive plants are usually not thinned, but left to grow in bunches. Divide every three years to keep clumps vigorous. Liquid fertilizer applications are not necessary. However, a light feeding early in the spring will promote plant vigor.

Tip: Practice organic weed control. Chives do not compete well with other plants, so weed diligently.

Harvesting:

Most culinary herbs are best picked early in the morning just as the dew evaporates. Harvest chives as soon as the spears are a few inches long. Snipping out entire spears, to 2 inches above the ground, will encourage new growth. Do not wash the cuttings or aromatic oils will be lost. Chives are best fresh or frozen but can also be dried. To dry, tie them in small bunches upside down in a dark, dry, well ventilated room.

Insects and Disease:

Chives are susceptible to infestations of aphids. Use insecticidal soap or other natural pest control method, if necessary.

Seed Saving Instructions:

Plants will flower and form seed-heads. When these heads begin to dry, clip off and allow to dry further in a well protected area. There are many seeds in each flower.

Note: It make take 2 seasons before the seed is produced.

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