The common chives (Allium schoenoprasum) is one of the essential condiment plants in the kitchen. The one also called civet belongs to the family of Amaryllidaceae. A few sprigs are enough to flavor many dishes, including salads, eggs and sauces. We reserve a small corner of the aromatic garden for it, alongside parsley, sage, chervil, thyme, verbena or even mint, rosemary… It can also be grown in pots, on the edge of a window or indoors, so everyone can have it on hand. Let’s see how to sow it, maintain it, and also look at its harvest.
Sow chives or civet
This is in March or April that the gardener can finally sow chives, under a tunnel for example so that his seedlings are sufficiently warm because at this time of the year, frosts are still possible in many of our regions. The method to follow is as follows.
- Digging to loosen the soil and clean it,
- Break up clods of earth with a towel,
- Trace a furrow no more than 2 cm deep,
- Arrange a seed every 7 cm,
- Cover the seedlings with a little fine soil,
- Pack lightly with the back of the rake,
- Sprinkle with the watering can.
If you want to sow in several rows, they must be spaced about twenty centimeters apart.
In just 15 days, you can see the first leaves appear. It’s time to do thethinning sowings which have been made in place in order to keep only one seedling every 10 cm. If you have opted for sowing in a nursery, you must wait 7 weeks before transplanting the plants to their final place. To avoid having to wait, you can of course buy your plants in pots.
This aromatic plant loves cool, well-drained, loose and fairly rich soilss. She needs a high luminosity but because she does not tolerate direct sun in summerespecially during the first months of cultivation, it must be offered a judiciously chosen position, that is half-shaded, so that it does not burn.
Note that the civet is also grown in pots. A soil for geranium is perfect for it. All you have to do is place a few seeds on the surface and then cover them lightly with a handful of soil for sowing or transplant a plant bought in a bucket directly into the container and place it in partial shade.
It is a plant easy to multiply. Every 2 or 3 years, in the spring or at the beginning of autumn, it is necessary to tackle the division of the civet clumps so that the feet remain vigorous and do not degenerate. To extract a foot of chives from the ground, the use of a spade is essential. We push the teeth of the tool deep enough so as not to damage the roots which must of course be preserved. Then stay at divide the clump by slicing it with a knife and then replant immediately, either in a pot of potting soil or in the aromatic garden. The soil must first have been dug to a depth of at least 20 cm, cleared of unwanted weed roots and stones, then enriched with mature compost or organic fertilizer.
Caring for garden chives
This condiment plant poses no difficulty to the gardener because it is undemanding.
As we have seen, it is necessary to keep garden soil moist from sowing to emergence. Regular watering after transplanting is also necessary for a few weeks. Ideally, we water at the neck, just enough to keep the soil moist and not to wet the leaves.
Watering requires more attention for potted chives because in a container, the growing medium dries out more quickly than garden soil. Finally, let’s know that if it is kept indoors, you have to think about watering it without waiting as soon as the soil is dry, but in no case do you leave water in the saucer.
Passing the hoe around the civets from time to time is useful in controlling weeds.
Cut the flowers
In July the flowers appear. If we are not careful, the gone to seed intervenes quickly, which has the effect of exhausting the plants unnecessarily. It is therefore advisable to remove the flower stems as soon as possible, that is to say as soon as they appear. A foot can however be intended to provide the seeds which one will be able to sow the following spring.
Chives are very rustic because she can bear down to -20°C. But nothing prevents protecting the clumps with a mulch of dead leaves. As for those grown in pots and left on the terrace or balcony, they should be placed in a corner sheltered from the biting cold, winter outdoors being always more delicate for plants in containers. For example, you can buy a mini greenhouse that will allow potted chives to overwinter outdoors without worry.
Pests and diseases
Little prone to attacks by insect pests, this plant even acts as a repellent against the carrot fly and aphids. Otherwise, she mainly fears the rust. But this fungal disease can easily be avoided if care is taken not to water the leaves. If rust appears, it is necessary to cut the plant as short as possible, then apply two or three sprays of potassium permanganate or tansy manure every few days. The problem should be resolved quickly.
Harvest the chives
The harvest can begin from April-May and extend at least until September. We pick the fragrant sprigs as needed. The stems are cut using a pair of clean scissors reserved for this purpose, about 3 cm above the bulb to allow the growth of new strands. It is important not to wait until the stems are too big because the civet hardens somewhat over time.
A short rinse with clear water is recommended. Then dab the bunch of chive sprigs with a clean tea towel to dry it. The ideal is to consume this fragrant plant freshly picked, finely chopped with a knife. But it can be kept for 2 to 3 days in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator after being placed in a small freezer bag.
The civet flowers are also edible. They taste floods because cooking does not suit them. They are sprinkled over salads to which they bring a decorative touch as well as their subtly garlicky taste. They also flavor sauces, fish, make it possible to produce a butter of chive flowers perfect to accompany radishes for example. Like many edible flowers, these tolerate pickling well. The only drawback is that it does not allow them to keep intact their beautiful purple color verging on mauve or even pink depending on the variety.