Why chives?

Chives are not only great in the kitchen but they’re a truly beautiful herb when left to flower

I do get impatient waiting for spring onions to mature so I tend to use chives in salads instead. They’re easy to cultivate and, as a perennial herb, they’re there for cutting year on year. If you have a herb patch, the long, spiky shoots of chives offer a great visual contrast to the more leafy herbs such as oregano, sage and mint.

In March/April, sow thinly about 1cm (½in) deep in finely raked soil and cover lightly with soil. Thin out the young plants to about 23cm (9ins) apart when they are large enough to handle . Otherwise sow a few seeds in pots filled with multi-purpose compost and place in a sunny spot.

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Cut the shoots over the summer as and when. However, if you leave them, they do produce marvellous flower buds which can be chopped up and added to salads, giving a mild garlicky taste. Otherwise, let the flowers bloom – bees and butterfles just love ’em!

The plant will die back in late autumn but revive again in spring when, if you need to, you can divide them in clumps and replant them. Great value all round!

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About the Author

Tony Flanagan
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