Growing Chives At Home
Growing Chives - Facts
Seven Steps to Growing Chives
Growing chives in pots, in the ground at home is easy, indoors and outdoors, just follow these steps.
Introduction to Chives
Chives are edible species of herbs that trace their roots back to the Middle Ages in Ancient Asia. It shares the same family with onions and garlic. Chives are well-known for their daring flavour and beautiful lavender blossoms.
They are widely used as spices all around the globe. From topping mashed potatoes to making delicious purees, they have many culinary uses. With this step-by-step guide, you will be able to grow chives in your home with ease.
Best Soil Type
Like other ornamental perennials, chives grow perfectly in well-drained fertile soils. For you to grow these herbs well, you will need soil rich in organic matter. Add aged compost to your garden soil to make it fertile enough.
Compost will recover the garden soil’s natural buffer capacity. This means that the soil’s pH will be brought close to 7.
Chives thrive in slightly acidic soils. An average pH range of 6-7 will enable them to grow well. Before placing your seeds, apply some slow-release fertilizer rich in nitrogen. This fertilizer’s low solubility in water will allow it to feed your chives with nutrients for weeks once the plant has developed its roots.
When growing chives, avoid, at all costs, water-logged soil. Very moist soil will not only encourage the infestation of onion thrips, but it will also cause the plant roots to rot. I would recommend that you use gritty loamy soil.
This soil texture will take care of the drainage. Even so, be sure to water it regularly to prevent the soil from drying.
Once your soil is ready, plant your chives. As mentioned before, chives are perennials. This means that you’ll get to see their beautiful violet flowers at least twice in a year. However, for them to bloom properly during the summer and spring cycle, it would be best for you to plant them during early spring.
At this time, the soil temperatures range from 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the optimum soil temperature for the germination of chives seeds.
Chives are best grown from divisions. If you have already bought the seeds you can still go ahead with their planting. Place the seeds 1/4-inch-deep under the soil. Ensure that the seeds are 6-inches apart to allow enough room for germination. With the right garden soil temperature, your seeds will germinate after 3 weeks.
However, when sown indoors, they will only take a week and a half to shoot out of the soil. The latest you should plant them is 8 weeks before your average frost date. This herbaceous plant has a delicate shoot; one that can easily be destroyed by spring frost.
You can either transplant them to indoor pots or to the garden. Personally, I would advise you to transplant them inside your house. Chives are good ornamentals. They will add some aesthetic flavour to your sitting room. To back this up, you will be able to take good care of them as they grow.
Ensure that your plants have matured enough for transplanting. Their roots should look like small bulbous clumps (bulbets) when you are transplanting them. At that stage, they will be ready for propagation through division.
Propagation through division is a process which involves the dividing of the root clamps to individual pieces to fasten growth. Make sure that the clumps to be divided are large enough (at least five inches in diameter). Use a spade to lift the bulbets from the nursery bed. Using your hand, gently shake the bulbs. This will loosen them.
Remove the dirt from the bulbets to weaken the bonds. You will then be able to separate them. Divide each bulb (according to its size) to 3 or 4 smaller clumps. Transplant each plant clump in a pot. Look for a medium sized pot (6 to 8 inches in diameter) with holes at the bottom. These holes will aid in soil drainage as we shall see in the next section.
You should spare at least one inch between the soil line and the pot’s rim. This will give you enough space for watering. Transplanting, whether indoor or outdoor, should be done at the onset of autumn. However, if winter is fast approaching, you should stick to transplanting them to indoor pots.
Chives require enough water to grow healthily. This is because they are herbaceous. They comprise of 90% water. You need to water them regularly throughout their entire growth period. Use your eyes and index finger to determine when and how much they need to be watered.
Watering Potted Chives
When watering, pour water into the pots until the pot starts to leak through the bottom holes. Leave the plants as this water amount would be enough to carry it throughout the day. Return later and test the soil moisture levels using your index finger. If 1 inch of the topsoil feels dry, water the plant again. This should go on until the chives are fully mature.
Chives are low-maintenance herbs. However, like other plants in its family, it requires enough sunlight. Expose it to at least 6 hours of sunlight for fast healthy growth. Place the pot adjacent to a window for direct sunlight.
To boost its production, side-dress the herbs with fertilizer rich in ammonium nitrate. With this, your chives will mature and bloom within 3 months. When it blooms prune it and prevent its spread to the other parts of the garden or pot. Chives are very hardy plants. You won’t have to worry much about pests and diseases. However, lookout for onion flies and thrips especially when they mature.
If you follow the five steps mentioned above when growing your chives, you will be able to harvest your healthy leaves in no time. Assuming you planted them during spring your plants will be ready for harvest during midsummer.
Cutting Your Herb
This are 4 weeks after transplanting. Use garden scissors to cut 6-inch long leaves. Cut them at the base. Chives can be harvested repeatedly all year round when mature. Even so, suspend your harvest in the months of May and June to allow them to flower.
Pack the chives in freezer bags and freeze them. The bags must be airtight to prevent bacteria infestation. They can then last for more than 6 months. I would recommend that you stick to freezing as its method of preservation.
Other methods like drying will cause them to lose their flavour.
Rich in Vitamins A and C.It is also loaded with antioxidants that absorb colorectal cancer cells . It contains choline which effectively helps to reduce depression levels.