Chives are an easy to grow herb with a mild onion flavour that makes them a great addition, chopped fresh into summer salads. Their thin, leek-like leaves can reach up to knee height and during summer some will produce small pods at their tips which then open into tightly clustered purple and white flowers. These can be enjoyed for their beauty in the garden or can be picked and tossed into salads and stir-fries as a decorative tangy treat.
Companions Carrots, broccoli, cabbage, aubergine, kohlrabi, potatoes, rhubarb, squash, strawberry, tomato.
Plant or sow in early spring and summer.
They prefer a position in full sun but you can plant them in partial shade - where they might just be a little straggly and produce fewer flowers. Chives can be planted in containers amongst other herbs such as thyme, marjoram, sage and rosemary.
Chives need a well-drained soil that has been enriched with organic material - such as compost or rotted manure - to grow well.
In early spring, sow seeds a finger-tip deep in trays or punnets filled with seed compost or directly into the garden or proposed container. Thin seedlings as they develop so that plants end up with about a finger’s length between them.
When your seedlings are about a finger’s length in height and the weather has settled and is reliably warm and sunny, plant seedlings at an average spacing of a finger’s length apart. I usually pop a few chive plants here and there in our garden but should you want to plant in rows then space plants a hand’s length apart and separate rows by two hand’s lengths.
Water young seedlings in dry periods. Once they are established and starting to grow you shouldn’t need to continue with watering unless weather is persistently dry and your soil dries out.
Aphids can be a problem. Treat any visible infestations with Neem oil, Garlic oil spray or Tomato leaf spray.
Cut the leaves with scissors. Pick flowers as and when you want them once they have appeared. Leave some on plants in the garden – bees seem to love them and they look great.
Chives are a perennial plant that reappears every spring. To freshen up older plants, using a pair of scissors, cut all foliage back to about a finger’s length in spring to stimulate growth of juicy young leaves.