Onion chives resemble tufts of fine grass when they're young but as they mature the leaves become circular and hollow with the distinct taste of onion. Garlic chives look very much like onion chives but as they mature the leaves become broad and flat, and a light green colour. The flavour is characteristic of garlic but much milder.

Both varieties of chives can be grown from seed, although propagation is quicker and easier by division of established clumps. If it is grown from seed, sprinkle it thickly where they are to grow permanently, cover them with a fine layer of soil and thin them out when they're about 50 cm high.

Chives can be used in almost every savoury dish. Chop them finely and sprinkle on potatoes cooked in their jackets, on green salads or add them to egg dishes and cream cheese dips.

Chives will help reduce scab when grown near the roots of apple trees. A chive tea made into a spray is helpful in combating downy and powdery mildew. Chives have a beneficial effect on carrots, and planted under rose bushes will help combat aphids.

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Organic Gardeners Composting

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