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Chives are a gorgeous edible flowering perennial member of the onion family. They're also an excellent pest-deterrent companion plant.
Here's how to cultivate chives in your own backyard!
Chives are a cold-hardy, cool-season perennial that should be planted in the early to mid-spring for a summer harvest. When planting this herb, keep in mind that if the flowers are allowed to fully develop.
Types of Chives to Grow
Common chives (Allium schoenoprasum) and garlic chives (Allium tuberosum) are the two types of chives usually cultivated in home gardens:
Chives are clusters of small, slender bulbs that grow thin, tubular, blue-green leaves that reach a height of 10-15 inches. Depending on the cultivar, the delicious, tasty blossoms might be white, pink, purple, or red. Zones 3 through 9 are suitable for growing them.
Garlic chives (also known as Chinese chives) resemble normal chives in appearance, but their leaves are flatter, greener, and grow to be around 20 inches tall. Their leaves have a faint garlic flavor, as their name indicates (bulbs are more intense). White flowers grow bigger and less thickly clustered than typical chives. Garlic chives are not as cold-resistant as regular chives and are best grown in zones 4 to 9.
When to Plant Chives
Chives are classified as a cool-season crop, meaning they thrive in the spring and fall. Summer's harsher temperatures normally drive them to hibernate until cooler weather returns.
Start chive seeds within 6 to 8 weeks before the final spring frost in colder climates to get a head start. (Refer to your local frost dates.) Before being planted in the garden, transplants must grow well.
In the spring, put seeds outside as soon as the soil is workable. Don't be alarmed if it takes a few weeks for them to germinate. The soil temperature should be between 60o and 70oF (15o and 21oC) for the greatest germination and growth.
Once the fear of frost has gone, move the transplants outside.
The bulb rots (caused by soilborne fungi)
Leaf patches caused by a fungus (such as purple blotch and grey mold)
Thrips on onions
How to Harvest Chives
Begin harvesting chive leaves about 30 days after your transplant or 60 days after seeding.
Be sure to cut the leaves down to the base when harvesting (within 1 to 2 inches of the soil).
Harvest 3 to 4 times during the first year. In subsequent years, cut plants back monthly.
The chive plant will flower in late spring or early summer. The flowers are edible and taste best just after they have opened—they should look full and bright.
Choosing and Preparing the Planting Site
Chives prefer full sun but may take some mild shade.
Moisture, fertile, rich, and well-draining soil are required. 4 to 6 inches of well-composted organic materials should be incorporated before planting. 6 to 8 inches of compost should be worked into the soil.
How to Grow Chives?
Plants that are fully developed and established require very little attention. Despite their drought tolerance, chives require continuous irrigation throughout the growing season to provide excellent yields.
When watering, make sure the soil is well saturated.
Because the little bulbs of chives grow near the soil surface, mulch is recommended to retain moisture and keep weeds at bay. If your soil is not already nutrient-rich, top-dress with a nitrogen-heavy fertilizer in late spring or early summer for optimum output.
Be careful to remove the blooms after they've bloomed so that the seeds don't spread across your garden.
In the spring, remember to split the plants every 3 to 4 years. If you divide your chive plants on a regular basis, you'll get a lot greater yield. Allow split plants to develop for several weeks before harvesting, dividing them into clumps of at least 10 tiny bulbs.
How to Store Chives
When using chives, use them fresh or frozen (freeze the leaves in an airtight bag). The taste of dried chives is lost.
Keep chives in a re-sealable container in a cool area.
Plant chives near carrots and tomatoes in the garden, but keep them away from beans and peas. Aphids and Japanese beetles are known to be repellent to chives. Plant them near plants that are prone to be harmed. Hanging chives in the house was thought to ward against sickness and evil.
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