Growing chives is relatively easy for most gardeners. Chives need full sunlight and grow best in dry, sandy, light and well-drained soil that is rich in nutrients. In warmer climates, chive plants will grow year-round, while in cooler climates they’ll die down as the weather gets cold and will come back in the spring.
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You’ll have to wait two years for chive seeds to become plants of small size, so it’s usually better to start with a division from another gardener or a purchased plant. Whether you start from seed or division, plant in the spring after the last frost.
The clump will increase annually as long as you divide and replant the bulbs, which means that you will need to divide the clumps every 3 years in order to keep the plants vigorous. Divide each clump into several pieces, with each piece having a clump of bulbs and roots.
To further improve the growth of your chive plants, give them full sun (they’ll also grow in partial shade) and mulch the soil to prevent the invasion of the clumps by grass or garden weeds. Your chives probably won’t need fertilizer if your soil is healthy enough, but adding a side dressing of organic fertilizer in less than ideal conditions can work wonders.
Planting depth: about 1/16 inch (1.56 mm)
Spacing in rows: about 5 to 8 inches (12.7-20.3 cm)
Germination soil temperature: 60 to 85 degrees F (15.6 to 29.4 degrees C)
Days to germination: 7 to 14 days
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Chive plants require moderate watering assuming you have well-drained soil.
You should also cut off the spent flowers before seeds are formed - especially if you planted garlic chives - as the very fertile seeds will aggressively self-sow themselves.
Chives will continue to produce year after year (as long as you divide and replant every few years as mentioned above), but be sure to protect them throughout the cold season during the first year or two with row covers or a horticultural fleece.
You can begin harvesting chives about 12 weeks after planting the seeds or when established plants have resumed their growth in the spring. This is usually when the plants are about 6 inches (15 cm) tall.
On an ongoing basis, you can enjoy your chives by cutting off the leaves a few inches (7 to 8 cm) above the ground as they reach your preferred length. If you have garlic chives, the flowers they produce are also edible in the bud stage or when they are freshly opened.
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You can store completely dried chives in airtight jars in a cool, dry place.
To freeze chives, harvest and wash them thoroughly, then blanch them in boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes. Cool them quickly in ice water, drain them thoroughly then put them into packages.
Chive seeds only last from one to two years.
The following pests and diseases have been known to affect the success of growing Chives. For more information about preventing and controlling them, see Organic Garden Pest Control.
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