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A Gardeners Guide To Growing Chives

Growing Chives

How to Grow Chives:

Chives is the common name given to the plant also known as Allium schoenoprasum, which is an edible family member of the Allium genus. The chive is a close relative to other edible plants including garlic, shallot, leek, and scallion to name a few. The Allium genus is native to both the Old and New Worlds and grows across much of Europe, Asia, and North America. 

Chives are considered a herb and are quite common in the modern American and European diet. They are also often used in culinary worlds to help enhance the flavors of dishes. 

The plant is also very high in the amount of nectar it produces. In fact, chives produce so much nectar that they are in the top 10 most nectar-producing plants out there. 

Seed Sowing Depth: Chives require soil that is rich in nutrients. Lay down a layer of about 4-6 inches of organic compost in which you will plant your chive seeds. Plant the actual seed at a depth of about 1/2 inch and allow space of about 4-6 inches between each seed that is planted. Also, provide adequate fertilizer to the plants to allow them to grow better. The pH of the soil should be maintained between a 6.5 and 7. 

When to Sow: Sow the seeds outside in the springtime when the temperature is consistently between 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit. This usually means planting the seeds soon as the soil is workable in the springtime. Chives should be watered every couple of days and do not need excessive amounts of pruning or care. They will take care of themselves for the most part.

If you want a head start for your chive plants you can begin planting the seeds in a container inside 8-10 weeks before you will be able to transfer them to the soil in your garden or yard.

Sowing Indoors/Outdoors: Seeds can be sown indoors or outdoors, however, if you want a head start on the seeds grow into edible plants you can begin growing the plants indoors about 8-10 weeks before they will be able to be planted outside. Once you transfer the plant outside, it will already be well on it's way to growing to the point of full maturity. 

If the plant is left with its leaves on and not trimmed, however, it is worth noting that the plant will grow uncontrolled and it can easily take over your entire garden! However, the good news is that chives have fairly shallow roots and are easy to remove from your garden if you must do so without disrupting the growth of other plants or risking uprooting them as well! 

Plant Height/Width: The plant is ready to harvest when it is about 6" tall and you should trim them to about 2" above ground level to allow them to regrow again. As with most plants, trimming them and harvesting regularly allows the plant to grow back more rapidly and encourage regrowth. 

Leafs Description & Design: Chives are long, tubular vegetables with pretty white flowers on the end and they are characterized by flat leaves that grow from the long, tubular stem. These tubular stems, however, are not hollow like their counterpart in the onion chive.

Growth Habits: Chives grow best in cool weather and are very enduring in the cold weather. They are a perennial plant which will hibernate during the winter and endure the frosts and snows of the north quite well. Plants will also thrive in a cool greenhouse or on a kitchen windowsill if you choose to grow them inside your home or business. 

Chives will do the best in full sunlight but require at least partial sunlight to allow them to thrive and grow optimally. Also be sure to fertilize the plant every 3-4 weeks for optimal growth. At the end of the growing season be sure to cut the plant the entire way back to the ground so that it can be protected throughout the winter and poised to return during the next growing season. When cutting close to the ground the seeds will hibernate, endure cold snaps (including snows and frosts), and should return to your garden during the next growing season. However, leaving chives unattended to grow throughout the winter, they will oftentimes grow out of control and take over your garden. You will find yourself removing a lot of seedlings from your garden during the next growing season. This is not only more work for you, it means a lot of wasted seeds and fewer herbs that you will be enjoying in your favorite cooked dishes.

General Info on Chives & Their Uses: Chives are an herb which is traditionally used to garnish many various dishes. They are usually harvested raw and used to garnish many various dishes including soups, salads, and side dishes served with meals to name a few of their uses. They also work well baked into many egg-based dishes such as scrambled eggs, quiche, or omelets.  

Chives can also be treated with lavender oil and vinegar and stored for a few weeks till they are ready to present as nice gifts as well.

Pests & Diseases: The reason so many people love to grow chives is that there are very few if any problems that they will suffer from. They are hearty plants that can even endure harsh freezes of winter and come back as a perennial plant. They are virtually foolproof to disease and that's why many people love to grow them in their gardens. They are low-maintenance and diverse in their uses in the culinary world and the kitchen as well.

Harvesting Information & Storage: Chives are ready to start being snipped after about 90 days of growth if they start out as a seed, or at about 60 days after they are transplanted from their indoor location. Harvesting just entails snipping off the top leafy part of the plant and leaving the tubes to continue to grow and regenerate new leaves. 

For storage tie the chives together in small bundles and hang them upside down in a dark, dry place. Do not crush or cut the leaves up until you are ready to use them. You will generally not need to store chives if you have them in your flower bed to cut and use whenever you want to use them. 

Edible Uses & Flavors: Chives present a mild taste similar to that of an onion, however, much of the bitter taste will dissolve as the herb is cooked into a dish. Chives will float beautifully in a soup or fit in nicely to any sort of quiche, scrambled eggs, or other egg-based dishes that you choose to cook up throughout the chive's growing season. Veggie stir-fries are another option that will let you use chives as a seasoning to your dish. The uses for this plant really are quite varied and they are able to endure a variety of climates so people all across the world can enjoy the great tastes that chives add to their dish. 

Chive pods are also used in many culinary dishes as well and present a stronger flavor than the leaves that are trimmed from the top. 

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