Chives farming is actually pretty simple. All they need is a warm, sunny to semi-shady spot with slightly sandy, humus-rich, well-aerated soil. And water regularly so that these herbaceous plants thrive. Chives grow well in raised beds and greenhouses and prefer slightly acidic to neutral soil conditions.

Chives, which belong to the Allioideae subfamily, are closely related to onions (Allium cepa), garlic (Allium sativum) and leeks (Allium porrum). The slightly pungent taste of chives makes them a very popular kitchen herb and the delightful purple flower heads really brighten up the farm or kitchen garden.

Chives takes about 45 days to mature after which farmers harvest a crop every 20-25 days for up to three years, and a greenhouse measuring 240 sq m produces up to 150 kg. A perennial crop, chives is easy to grow and is rarely attacked by pests and diseases. All these factors, along with a steady export demand, have made it a very attractive crop for the farmers.

Growing requirements for chives farming in Kenya

Does well in varied climate but thrives best in cool environments. Soil must be fertile and free draining, preferably loamy and sandy soils with pH ranging from 6.2-6.8. The herb requires full sunlight exposure and constant moisture supply around the root zone, does best under irrigation and controlled environments although with all growing conditions met it can too thrive well outdoors.

Chives Farming Plant propagation

The herb can be sown using seeds or vegetative materials. To propagate using divisions gently dig the clump and pull away a smaller clump from the main clump. The smaller clump should have at least five to 10 bulbs. Transplant this small clump to the desired location in your garden where you will be growing chives.

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Seeds can be raised on nursery, indoors or outdoors prior to transplanting. Transplanting can be done when the seedlings attain 15cm in height. Transplant during morning or late in the evening, any time will be good for indoor farming due to controlled growing conditions unlike open field farming.

Land preparation and Planting Chives in Kenya

Prepare the seedbed well and remove all weeds. Harrow the seedbed to fine tilth desired for the crop growing. Incorporate well decomposed animal or compost manure with the soil to increase soil fertility, the crop requires fertile soil. Phosphate fertilizer can be spread along the planting lines as it will help in rapid root and crop establishment. Incase of seeds, coating can be done using phosphate inoculum such as Gro plus-a phosphate based seed dresser for root enhancement and yield improvement.

Water management on chives farming in Kenya

Ensure constant moisture availability around the crop root zone. This calls for regular watering, mulch can be used around the plant base to conserve water. Apparently, drip irrigation would be much better to avoid water wastage. The herb cultivation under hydroponics will be much better for nutrient and water recycling.

Chives pest control and disease management

The crop is rarely attacked by pests and diseases hence its management s quite cheap. Major pests that might be found on the crop are thrips and onion flies, use blue traps to control thrips or predatory mite-Ambluseius californicus. If the physical control fails appropriate chemicals might be used sparingly.

Diseases may range from smut, mildews, leaf spots, rust, bulb rots and white rot. Keep the field clean, planting materials used should be disease free. In case of heavy infestation appropriate chemical as advised by crop specialist in your local area.

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 Harvesting chives

Harvest chives 30-45 days after you transplant or 60 days after seeding.Be sure to cut the leaves down to the base when harvesting Harvest 3 to 4 times during the first year. In subsequent years, cut plants back monthly.

Post-harvest handling of chives

Use chives when they’re fresh or frozen, freeze the leaves in an airtight bag. Dried chives lose their flavor hence drying should not be done in any case.Store chives in a cool place in a resealable container.

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