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Herb growing for beginners: chives

05th June 2019

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If you’re looking for a herb with a multitude of uses in the kitchen, then look no further than chives. The long, thin leaves pack a massive flavour punch and can be sprinkled over, or mixed into a variety of dishes. Not only does it taste great, but this crop is incredibly simple to cultivate in the garden, on the allotment or in a container. Follow this advice and you’ll soon be enjoying bundles of this versatile foliage.

START SOWING

Chives can be cultivated outside from April, but be sure to dig over your veg bed thoroughly and add a dose of well-rotted organic matter a few weeks before getting started. This will ensure that the earth has a workable consistency and will be free-draining. You can choose either a full-sun or partially shaded spot, but check that the ground isn’t too dry.

Sow thinly, 0.5cm where the plants are to grow for the entire season. Within three weeks, seedlings should start to spring up. Once they reach 7cm tall, thin out the plants to leave a 20cm gap between each one.

Alternatively, sow 1cm deep, indoors in trays filled with good-quality compost. A propagator can also be used to maximise germination success. Keep the soil moist and seedlings should appear within 10 days. Be sure to thin these young edibles to allow 15cm between each plant to avoid tangling weeds and hindered growth.

A month after sowing indoor crops, you can either pot your seedlings into 10cm containers or transplant outside provided that the risk of frost has passed (between March and June), leaving 20cm between each one.

CONTINUED CARE

Chives require very little care throughout the season. Simply water when the soil becomes too dry, and remove weeds regularly. If placed too close to onions, this crop can suffer from onion fly. However, this problem is easily prevented by keeping these two edibles far apart from each other on the plot. Container-grown plants should be potted on into bigger tubs once roots can be seen poking out of the bottom drainage holes.

HOW TO HARVEST

Simply snip leaves with scissors whenever you need them at 15cm long if they are growing indoors, and from June if they are outside. It’s best to add fresh cuttings to dishes in order to enjoy the benefit of maximum flavour in your cooking. Chives are evergreen perennials, so once you’ve made the effort to establish a few good plants, you’ll have an unlimited supply of yields for seasons to come.

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