Name: chives, garden chives, common chives, onion chives (Allium schoenoprasum).
Plant type: perennial.
Climate: all climates.
Soil: plant in a soil enriched with compost and well-aged manure, or try growing in pots in a premium organic potting mix.
Position: full sun, but can be grown indoors or in part shade.
Flowering and fruiting: purple pompom-like flowers are produced on flowering stems in late spring and summer.
Feeding: apply blood and bone or dynamic lifter in autumn and spring.
Watering: although tolerant of short dry periods, regular watering is best. Mulch to improve soil moisture.
Chives are clump-forming perennials with narrow, hollow, cylindrical foliage that has a pleasing mild onion-like flavour. Typically, the leaves are used in cooking and the purple pompom-like flowers are used in salads, although the entire plant is edible.
Aside from the obvious culinary purposes, chives can also be grown as a wonderful edging plant, especially in vegetable gardens and orchards. With pest-repelling qualities as well as attracting pollinators, chives are a popular companion herb, especially under apple trees or planted alongside tomatoes.
Chives are very easy to grow – regular water and seasonal fertiliser is all that's required, especially if you have planted your chives in an improved soil or premium potting mix and mulched to reduce weed competition.
Although chives are tolerant of frost, wait until all likelihood of frost has passed before planting or sowing chives in the garden in spring.
Being a low-maintenance plant, chives only need watering once or twice a week, more often in dry conditions. Apply blood and bone in spring and autumn. An application of an organic liquid fertiliser will also help to improve the overall health and vigour of your chives.
Harvest your chives as needed; no further pruning is required. Remove the flower stems to improve flavour and to keep your chives productive. You can add the flowers to salads.
Protect your plants from snails and slugs when they're young, using pet-friendly snail pellets or traps. As plants mature, they will be relatively pest free.
Chives can be propagated by seed or division.
After applying fertiliser, delay harvesting for a few days and rinse well before cooking and eating. If using products to deal with pests, diseases or weeds, always read the label, follow the instructions carefully and wear suitable protective equipment. Store all garden chemicals out of the reach of children and pets.
Spring onions: easy to grow and a versatile kitchen ingredient.
Flat leaf parsley: another staple herb of the garden that's used in the same cuisine as chives.
Chilli: spice up your kitchen with the addition of homegrown fresh or dried chilli.
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