Easy to grow, this perennial, which is part of the onion family, is an essential addition to the herb garden. Attractive to bees and butterflies, their edible leaves make an irresistible garnish for potatoes, salads and soups.
Not only are chives ideal for pots and containers, they make great edging for paths and borders. Interestingly, chives are terrific at deterring pests such as carrot root fly.
Sow and grow indoors for all year round crops. Sow 0.5cm (¼”) deep, in small pots of compost. Water well and place in a warm position. A temperature of 15-20°C (60-68°F) is ideal. Seedlings usually appear in 14-21 days. Grow on in cooler, but not cold conditions. For earlier outdoor crops, sow indoors March-May. Gradually accustom plants to outside conditions (avoid frosts), before planting out into warm, well-drained soil, 20cm (8″) apart, during May-June. Alternatively, plants can be grown on a light windowsill. Or sow outdoors March-May for ease, where they are to crop, 0.5cm (¼”) deep, directly into finely-prepared, warm, well-drained soil, which has already been watered. Thin seedlings to 20cm (8″) apart. Harvest: by cutting leaves once they reach 15cm (6″) tall (outdoor crops from June). Pick a few leaves from each plant so they regrow quickly.
Tip: If you are short of space, chives are decorative enough to be grown in flower borders or pots on the patio. It is a rewarding and long-lived herb.