Chive Culture

One of the easiest year-round herbs to grow is chives. Chive culture is very simple but there are a couple key tips to remember that will help spur your success.

First of all, chives are so easy to grow, there is no good reason why not to grow them from seed. It matters not whether you want chives, garlic chives or some exotic version thereof, they have a very high germination rate and are not particular about soil type. They grow well in full sun to high, dappled shade. Consistent moisture supply is advisable but they will tolerate a wide range of soil types and neglect. Sow thickly and sit back and watch!

Secondly, the Gardening Grannies firmly recommend that you do not just plant them in the ground. After a period of time (think a couple of years), it’s very easy for weed seeds to infiltrate your chives and, pretty soon, you’re not sure just what it is that you are cutting. Disconcerting as that is, there’s an easy solution. Plant your chives in clay pots. After planting, sink the pots, up to and just covering the rim of the pot.  Plant the pots any place in your garden that is both practical and attractive. The porous clay pots allow the moisture to wick in and out of the pot as conditions allow so they don’t need watering any more often than the rest of the garden.  Want to move them to a location?  Just pop out the pot and replant.  So easy!

If this is your season for taking certain veggies out of the garden and into the flower beds, chives in clay pots are certainly a good place to start. While it is possible to contain chive in the cheaper plastic pots, perhaps leftovers from something you bought years ago, it would be cheap but, honestly, it’s not advisable. Plastic pots, in this case, can prove to be more work due to the fact that the moisture cannot wick to and from the plants to stay consistent with the soil around around it.

Once you have set your chives out, you are basically done! You can start chives any time of the year and set them out any time from April through October. You can leave them out … and snip their aromatic stems …. all year round on Delmarva. How much more convenient can it be than that?

If you aren’t currently a user of chives, maybe now is the time to start. You can saute them in butter and add to scrambled eggs or potatoes for a gentle seasoning. You can snip pieces and add to salads or decorate your favorite home-made soups. They are perfect for adding to oven roasted root veggies or stews. You can dry chives or freeze them for future use. The important thing is that you keep snipping and they will keep growing. Snipping also will prevent them from going to seed too early in the fall. It’s true: The more you use, the more they will produce.

Gardening Grannies are a group of avid and Master Gardeners who live, love and garden on the Delmarva Peninsula.