Chives thrive just about anywhere. Allot a small patch of your backyard garden to growing chives, or grow them on a sunny windowsill.
Chives make a unique and special addition to regular meals as well as fast food. When growing chives, you can choose from several varieties, the main ones being:
- The common garden onion chive (Allium schoenoprasum) which has a taste similar to mild onions. They have tubular leaves and pink flowers.
- Chinese or Garlic chives (Allium tuberosum) which have a garlic-like flavor and have flat leaves with white flowers.
Chives being hardy members of the onion family can survive and grow in any soil provided it is well-drained and has a pH range between 6.0 and 7.0.
To ensure successful planting however, it's advised that you have your soil ready a good fortnight before planting. This can be done by preparing a large amount of rotten compost material and mixing it in with the soil covering the patch you intend to sow.
Adding bonemeal to this mixture is also a great idea as it helps create ideal soil conditions. Make use of approximately 1 to 2 cups of bonemeal for every square yard to ensure optimum results.
Check to make sure the soil is moist prior to planting the seeds. Water the soil if you find it to be too dry.
You can use both seeds and bulbs to grow chives. It's a better idea to use bulbs if you want to get them off to a head start.
Take a bunch of about five bulbs and plant them at a distance of 10cms (4") from each other so that the tips are level with the ground surface. You can grow them in rows in your garden or in flower pots indoors on a window sill.
If you've prepared the soil as mentioned above prior to planting the seeds or seedlings, you won't have much left do in terms of adding nutrition to the soil.
Just make sure to keep the surrounding space clean of weeds which can spring up very quickly.
Add water whenever you notice the soil is drying out too deeply. If chives get too waterlogged, this can be a problem and rot the roots and bulb causing the leaves to wilt and go yellow.
Wait until the chives grow several inches and keep harvesting the parts as and when required. Start with the leaves which are on the outermost edges and work inwards. Use a pair of scissors to do so.
Don't harvest all the leaves in one go. Leave about 5cm of leaves on the plant and you'll soon notice that they grow back.
Chives are always determined to flower and you must be just as determined to stop this, at least to some extent. You want the growing energy to go into leaves not flowers... but the flowers are sweet and the bees love them.
So snip off most flowers and leave the odd one or two, or alternatively try a clump or two of growing chives elsewhere for ornamental use and to attract bees.
Sometimes with growing chives, you may find the plant drying up and looking a bit weak. All you need to do is cut the leaves a little and trim off all dead stalks. This will rejuvenate the plant which will soon start putting out new leaves.
Also if you are in a temperate or cold climate, make sure to cut the leaves and any flower stalks right down to a few cms from ground level at the beginning or middle of winter. In early spring, feed and divide and replant if necessary and your chives will produce lovely fat new leaves.
If you are growing chives in warmer areas, your plants will keep producing all year round as long as you feed them and occasionally divide the clumps. Giving the plants a trim now and then also helps keep them growing through the years.
If you desire to increase the size of your patch, simply dig out a clump until it's free of the soil. You'll find multiple bulbs clumped together. Just separate them and plant each bulb separately or a small group of bulbs in a new spot. They'll soon begin to thrive on their own.
Chives are just about disease free and the only pests of any problem are thrips. These can start off as one or two, but be carefull as overnight they explode into a mass chive feast. They look like small black aphids, and like aphids these thrips will suck the sap from your chive leaves and ultimately kill the plant.
Rub the first few thrips off with your fingers and you'll unually fix the problem, but if not give them an organic spray or use the garlic spray at: Organic Pest Control.
Now you are an expert on growing chives, check out more herbs to grow: Growing Herbs
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