A member of the allium family, chives are a great companion plant for your vegetable garden. Planted around the border of your garden, their smell helps to deter pests.
Chives require more phosphorous than nitrogen or potassium to thrive. They benefit from being planted with a fish head under their roots. The fish will decompose quickly in the soil, and feed your chives with nitrogen and phosphorus.
Chives are a perennial plant which grow in clumps that can be divided. You can either plant your seeds in one place, or you can plant them as a border or a row. I would recommend a border of chives. Their flowers are very attractive come spring and summer, and you will benefit from a broader area where pests are being deterred.
Dig a small hole or shallow trench and plant the seeds about 1cm under the soil. Mulch straight away. If you plant with seeds, do not cover the area above your seed with mulch, or it may prevent the seed from sprouting. However, cover the soil around the seed, and once sprouted, mulch again. Mulch should be a minimum of 3cm thick. You can also mulch with compost or coconut coir. When they have sprouted, thin the seeds to the spacing recommended on the variety you have planted.
Water in with a seaweed concentrate and magnesium water.
Chives with a fish head under them will not need a lot of extra fertilising throughout the year. However, they will benefit, like all plants, from a regular treatment of seaweed concentrate and fish emulsion.
Chives do not grow well with beans. This is because members of the allium family have antibacterial properties which kills the bacteria living on the roots of beans and results in beans not fixing nitrogen through their roots. Instead it is best to plant them near lettuce and peas which benefit from the chives’ aphid repelling abilities. They also repel the cucumber beetle from cucumbers and borers from apples. If you grow carrots, chives improve their flavour. Try planting carrots in rows on either side of chives.
Chives do not need to be harvested, instead you can cut leaves off as they are needed. The flowers can be used to flavour and colour vinegar for salad dressings. If the chives become too dense, you can divide the plant and replant them elsewhere in your garden.
Author: Diana Barnes, Growing Vegetable Down Under