Chives are a very popular herb to grow at home, and ideal for soil, hydroponic as well as aquaponic.
Fresh chives taste a lot better than the dried product, and it’s also quite a small plant that is very easy to grow.
The best Chives to grow
Depending on your preferred recipes the 2 main chives to grow options are:
- Plain Chives – Ideal for use in fish, potatoes, soups, and other dishes.
- Garlic Chives – Ideal in Japanese, Chinese and Korean recipes
Follow the links below for details, or read on for growing and cooking advice:
Which type & where?
When allowed to flower they are very pretty and they will taste delicious as an ingredient in fish, potatoes, soups, and other dishes.
If you want to grow them at home
You will need to make 2 decisions:
Do you want to
- Grow indoors or outdoors ?
- Grow Plain or Garlic types?
Do you grow chives indoors or outdoors?
This is quite an important decision to make.
They are ideal for an indoor hydroponic or aquaponic system. And will thrive in a temperature of about 19°C, good moisture levels and long daylight supply.
For example if you use a kitchen hydroponic kit with LED lighting.
The plants are rated in the top 10 for most nectar production and great for bees, according to the UK Insect Pollinators Initiative.
In addiiton they also tend to be repulsive to insects. So if you plant them outside you will be able to both help the bee population as well as help protect some of your other herbs from insects.
Plain or garlic?
There are 2 main types.
1. Plain Chives
Most people will be aware of plain or fresh chives. they tend to have a onion flavour and are often used as a garnish. These are often diced and used are as an ingredient for fish, potatoes, soups, and other dishes.
The video will show you how to prepare them
Example recipes are
2. Garlic or Chinese Chives
Garlic, or Chinese chives, have larger and flatter leaves than the plain ones with a slightly stronger onion & garlic flavour.
As opposed to the plain ones they are used more as an ingredient in recipes. Although they can also be used as a garnish.
Example recipes include:
- Japanese Garlic Chives Scrambled Eggs (Niratama)
- Chinese Garlic Chive Boxes
- Korean Garlic Chive and Baked Garlic Salad
How to Grow Chives indoors
Like other herbs grown from seed there are 3 main stages in growing chives:
You can either sow the seeds straight into soil or use growing blocks (in the same method as parsley). The difference compared to a herb like parsley is that chive seeds will germinate easily and quickly – usually within 10 days.
When sowing in soil
- Sow them 13 mm deep
- And keep an ideal temperature of 16° – 22° C.
- And thin seedlings 15 mm between plants
2. Transplanting & Growing
If you are transplanting to a hydroponic or aquaponic system
- Transplant them after 4 to 6 weeks
- They will grow at their best at a temperature of about 19°C.
- And need at least 14 hours of light per day
If you are growing them inn soil please note they need plenty of moisture.
You can start cutting them when the plants are at least 15 cm tall.
- Cut the leaves 5 cms above the base of the plant.
- Make sure to leave enough foliage to help the plant regenerate.
- At most cut upto 2/3 of the plant
Garlic Chives – Special Rules
Please note that Garlic chives grow in the same way as above. However they do tend to produce a heavy leaf and provide a bigger yield than plain chives.
However it’s very important to note that they need to be pruned and cut back (especially the roots) as there is a real danger of them swamping your hydroponic system.
How to start
Hopefully our guide showing how to grow chives indoors has helped.