Growing Chives

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Like most herbs, chives are known for adding flavor to meals! Chives grow like grass; they have long straight leaves and could easily be mistaken for onions. Similar to onions, they have bulbs that grow underground, and the flowers grow at the end of the long leaves. But chives are different from onions.

Chives are one of the herbs that are perennials – I always love hearing that word, meaning they will come back year after year. Since they won’t have to be replanted every spring, you will probably want to put more thought into where you are going to plant them than you would a plant that would die after one year. Chives will easily spread; the bulbs can be split off to make hundreds of chive plants if tended to properly. The flower heads also easily go to seed, in which case you will have dozens of little chive plants in the spring. This is wonderful news if you are prepared to raise chives; buy one plant and you are set for life! Even if you aren’t set up to keep immaculate care of your gardens, you still should consider planting chives; after all, a few wild plants never hurt anyone.

Starting Chives from Seed

Chives can be started inside and, like most plants, if possible, I would suggest starting them inside. If you are going to start your chives inside, I would advise planting the seed ten weeks before the last frost of the year. The seeds should be planted ¼” deep. Chives need full sun, so try to find the sunniest window for you plants or put them under a grow lamp.

   Transplanting

If you decide to transplant your chives outside, you’ll need to wait until the last frost of the year. Plant chives 7” apart, in full sun! But like most herbs, you can just keep them inside if you would prefer. Be sure to water your chives often after transplanting because the root system needs time to establish itself. A great place to plant your chives is at the base of an apple tree since chives are believed to prevent apple scab; they are also said to be great for carrots if they are planted next to each other.

  Harvesting Chives

By the time the chives have had about 40 days to grow in the ground after being transplanted, they should have grown large enough to harvest. Using a pair of sharp scissors, cut the chive leaves back to 2” – the part you cut off is what you will be cooking with! You should be able to harvest chives several times a year.

Separating

After you have had your chives for about three years, the plants will have growing to approximately a foot wide. It’s time to separate you chive plant in to multiple plants. To separate the plant, just dig it up; at the base of the plant you will find that it is made up of multiple bulbs. Pull the bulbs apart into sections of at least 12; by the time you have completed this task you should have multiple plants. Make sure the plants have plenty of water for the first year after dividing; their roots will have to have some time before they can take care of themselves.

Saving for Winter

Chives die down in the winter, so you might want to save some clippings to use during the colder months. Chives don’t do well dehydrated, so you will possible want to consider freezing these leaves for future use.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comment section, and I will do my best to get back to you. I look forward to hearing from you!

About Chloe Smith

Chloe Smith is the owner of Fauna Preciosa, a brand designed to help small business owners. It also equips individuals to be better able to provide for themselves, while discovering new art and craft ideas. She also sells her own hand crafted items at craft festivals and through Fauna Preciosa's Etsy shop. If you are interested in following her work, check out Fauna Preciosa's blog or Facebook page.

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