Chives are a hardy perennial herb that is a member of the allium (onion) family.
The leaves are often used for flavouring soups and egg and cheese dishes, or as an accompaniment to potato salads and fish dishes.
The globular heads of rose-pink / white flowers, which can also be eaten, appear in June and July.
Apart from eating, chives make good companion plants.
Their scent can confuse pests such as the carrot root fly, and the flowers attract pollinators such as bees.
Chives in Flower
There are two types of chives namely;
Common chives which as the name suggests is the variety that most people grow.
This variety grows to a height of 250-400 mm (10"-16”) and has a mild, onion flavour.
The slower growing Chinese or garlic chives have white flowers, and grow to a similar height.
They have a mild garlic flavour.
Garlic chives in Flower
Chives can be grown in any fertile, well drained garden soil, or containers.
They will thrive in full sun or partial shade and need frequent watering during dry spells.
The plants die down completely in winter and re-appear the following spring, and are ready for cropping by May.
Feed established plants with a low nitrogen fertiliser, then apply a top-dressing of well rotted compost.
Sow seed n pots / trays of seed compost and germinate at 10°- 12°C (50°- 54°F)
Germination can take up to two weeks.
Alternatively sow them thinly in their final quarters, and thin them out to about 250-300mm (10"-12") apart when large enough to handle.
Prick out seedlings into 50mm (2") cells or 50mm (2") apart in boxes if large enough to handle.
Plant out 250-300mm (10"-12") into herb bed, or one or more plants to a container subject to its size.
Cut back established clumps to almost ground level, to encourage a further flush of new foliage.
Hoe or fork around the plants, and remove any weeds, if the ground is dry, give plants a good soaking.
Boost growth by applying a light dressing of general fertilizer.
Lift plants and split them into smaller pieces.
Pot up, three or four individually into 100-125mm (4”-5”) pots of peat-based compost.
The remaining pieces can be replanted in the garden.
This task can be left till spring if necessary.
Young plants should not be harvested until late summer in their fist year.
Leaves can be collected from established plants as required throughout the growing season.
When cutting use scissors or a sharp knife and leave approximately 50mm (2") of stem on the plant.
This will encourage further leaves to form.