Grow Your Own

Chives

A low maintenance perennial herb, chives are grown for their pungent, mild tasting leaves that are delicious when chopped up finely and mixed into a salad or added to other dishes – they go particularly well with potatoes and egg. Although they are primarily grown for their leaves, chives have edible pink flowers that make an attractive garnish for salads.

Chives

Sow

In early spring, sow a few seeds thinly across the surface of very small pots or into plugs, cover with a thin layer of vermiculite, water and place in a heated propagator to germinate. Remove the container after germination.

If you forget to sow seeds or want to save time, buy ready-grown plants.

Grow

Chives are incredibly easy to maintain. Keep plants well watered, especially during long dry spells in summer.

Rejuvenate congested clumps in the ground by lifting and dividing plants every three years or so.

Preferring moisture retentive, well-drained soil and a sunny or partially shaded position outdoors, chives form 30cm (1ft) tall clumps and can also be grown in pots of soil-based compost.

When plants have filled a container, either move into a slightly larger pot or lift the plant out and divide the rootball in two with a sharp knife, replanting a portion in the same pot.

Chives die back in late autumn. Keep plants looking tidy by clearing away debris.

Common problems

Aphids

Aphids: Look for colonies of greenfly on the soft shoot tips of plants or on leaves. They suck sap and excrete sticky honeydew, encouraging the growth of black sooty moulds.

Remedy: Use your finger and thumb to squash aphid colonies or use biological control in the greenhouse.

More info on Aphids

Leek rust

Leek rust: This is a fungal disease causing bright yellow spots on the leaves. It is often worse in long, wet spells.

Remedy: Mild attacks of rust won’t harm the plant, but serious infections may cause leaves to shrivel and affect yield. There is no control for rust once you have the infection. Make sure you don’t crowd plants, as this increases humidity and increases the likelihood of infection. Dispose of any badly affected plant material, and don’t grow garlic, leeks or onions in the same spot for three years.

More info on Leek rust

Harvesting

To keep plants productive, remove flowers as they start to fade or use the young blooms to brighten up salads. Cut leaves as required with scissors, snipping close to the base of plants – the more often they’re cut, the more new leaves will be produced.

Chives are best used fresh, although they can be cut up finely, packed into an ice-cube tray half-filled with water and popped into the freezer. Pop out cubes whenever you need them.

Varieties

‘Black Isle Blush’:

Similar to common chives, but with showier, light mauve flowers with a deep pink centre.

‘Fine Leaved’:

Milder flavour than common chives with thinner leaves.

‘Forescate’:

Makes robust clumps with slightly garlic-flavoured leaves and pale pink flowers.


Buy chives

Do now

  • Tidying up dead and dying growth

Month by month

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Sow
Plant out
Harvest

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