How did tasty and pretty chives get such a bad rap? | The Impatient GardenerChives (Allium schoenoprasum) are perennial herbs belonging to the family Liliaceae. These herbs are highly valued for their culinary uses, particularly their flavorful leaves. Known for their distinctive shape and soft texture, chive leaves are a staple in various dishes.

Chives Description

1.Appearance

Chive leaves are characterized by their tapering, hollow, and cylindrical shape. They offer a delicate and pleasant texture when consumed.

2. Bulb Formation

Similar to other members of the onion family, chives grow small bulbs from their roots, contributing to their perennial nature.

3. Flowering

Chives grow in clumps and produce dense clusters of large pale purple flowers. These vibrant flowers are organized into about 10-30 individual inflorescences.

4. Size and Lifespan

Chive plants typically reach a height of approximately 46 cm. Given favorable conditions, they can thrive for many years.

Cultivation Requirements

Temperature and Seasonality

Chives are cool-season perennials that tolerate cold temperatures. They thrive within a temperature range of 15-30 degrees Celsius. However, their growth is slower in cold climates.

Soil and Light Conditions

Chives thrive in well-draining soil rich in organic matter, with a pH level between 6 and 7. They prefer full sunlight but can tolerate partial shade.

Field Operations

Planting Methods

Chives can be grown from seeds or propagated by dividing an established plant.

Starting from Seeds

  • Plant the seeds in a well-prepared nursery, burying them at a depth of 1.3 cm.
  • Germination is slow and typically occurs after approximately 7 days.
  • Once the seedlings have reached around 4 weeks of age and have hardened, they can be transplanted.

Dividing Plants

  • Water the established plants a few hours before dividing to soften the soil and ensure turgidity.
  • Identify groups of plants to divide and form new clumps.
  • Cut the chives back to a height of approximately 10 cm and carefully extract the existing plant from the soil.
  • Separate the clump by gently breaking it apart into individual plants.

Transplanting

  • Seedlings: Transplant seedlings grown from seeds approximately 4 weeks after germination, ensuring a spacing of 20-30 cm between each plant.
  • Divided Plants: Plant divided chives 1.25 cm deeper than their previous position.

Cultural Practices

Mulching

  • Apply a layer of mulch around chives to conserve soil moisture and suppress weed growth.
  • The decomposition of mulch also releases nutrients into the soil.

 Irrigation

Chive plants require moderate watering.
Allow the soil to become almost dry between watering and then water thoroughly, avoiding overwatering.
Regular watering promotes the growth of larger, succulent leaves.

Weeding

  • Maintain a weed-free garden to prevent competition with chives for essential growth factors.

Flower Management

  • Remove the flower heads when they start to dry out and die to divert energy towards leaf production.
  • Chive seeds are highly fertile and can self-sow aggressively if not controlled.

Pest and Disease Management

Pests

Thrips

  • Infestation by thrips results in discolored, distorted tissue and scarring of leaves.
  • Recommended sprays: ALONZE 50EC, PROFILE 440EC, or DEFENDER 25EC.

Aphids

  • Aphids cause leaf curling and distortion, excreting honeydew that encourages sooty mold development.
  • Recommended sprays: KINGCODE ELITE 50EC, PRESENTO 200SP, or LEXUS 247SC.

Cutworms

  • Cutworms sever stems of young transplants or seedlings at soil level.
  • Dress seeds with SHIELD 600FS and drench soil with PROFILE 440EC or PENTAGON 50EC.

Diseases

Damping Off

  • Infected seeds become water-soaked, mushy, and fail to emerge.
  • Seedlings collapse and die, while older plants exhibit severe stunting.
  • Drench soil with PYRAMID 700WP and spray CHANCETYL ELITE 800WDG or MILLIONAIRE 690WDG.

Pink Root

  • Symptoms include light pink roots that darken and turn purple, transparent water-soaked roots, and stunted plants with shriveled bulbs.
  • Drench soil with PYRAMID 700WP or GEARLOCK TURBO 250WP.

Downy Mildew

  • Infection leads to pale spots or elongated patches on leaves, gray-purple fuzzy growth on leaf surface, and eventual leaf collapse.
  • Spray GEARLOCK TURBO 250WP, TOWER 720WP, or FORTRESS GOLD 720WP.

Nutrition and Nutritional Deficiencies

Importance of Nutrition

  • Optimal chive production requires proper nutrition, including macro and micronutrients.
  • Basal and foliar fertilizer applications provide the necessary nutrients.

Common Nutritional Deficiencies

Nitrogen Deficiency

Symptoms: Yellowing of older leaves and slower crop growth.
Correction: Use GOLDCHANCE SUPER GROWTH or LAVENDER.

Phosphorus Deficiency

Symptoms: Reddish-purple younger leaves, burnt leaf tips, and almost black older leaves with stunted growth.
Correction: Use GOLDCHANCE SUPER START, LAVENDER, PLANT SOUL, LEGENDARY, DIMIPHITE, or GREENPHITE.

Potassium Deficiency

Symptoms: Scorched or wilted older leaves and yellowing between leaf veins.
Correction: Use GOLDCHANCE SUPER FLOWERS & FRUITS, DIMIPHITE, GREENPHITE, or LEGENDARY.

Iron Deficiency

Symptoms: Interveinal chlorosis of youngest leaves, progressing to overall chlorosis and bleaching with necrotic spots.
Correction: Use PORTEGE GOLD FE, EURO GOLD PLUS, or MICRO GOLD.

Zinc Deficiency

Symptoms: Yellowing between veins of new growth (interveinal chlorosis), potential terminal leaf rosette formation.
Correction: Use ZINC GOLD.

Additional Considerations

  • To improve the efficacy of sprays, mix the product with INTEGRA, a sticker, spreader, wetter, and penetrant agent.
  • Rotate various chemicals, particularly fungicides and insecticides, throughout the season to prevent resistance buildup.
  • Mix basal fertilizers and manure with HUMIPOWER, an excellent soil amendment and fertilizer blend.
  • Adhere to the recommended post-harvest interval (PHI) for any chemicals used.

Maturity, Harvesting, and Post-Harvest Handling

  • Harvest chives after approximately 12 weeks from seed planting or when established plants have resumed growth (around 6 inches tall).
  • Regularly harvest chives throughout the season to prevent tough leaves and promote new bulb formation.
  • To harvest, simply snip off the leaves, leaving around 3 cm of green on the plant.
  • Flowers can also be harvested for use as an edible garnish.
  • Start harvesting from the outer leaves, working inward as needed.

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