I feel a little guilty writing a newsletter about chives. Chives are one of the easiest and most enjoyable herbs you can grow. They are the first to pop up in the spring, and produce until the first hard freeze! Chives look and taste very much like young onion plants, to which they are closely related. Unlike  onions, the chives are a hardy perennial that does not need fertilizer, mulch or extra water. Although they are native to Asia and Eastern Europe, by the sixteenth century chives were common plants in herb gardens throughout Europe. Chives have long been used in the kitchen, with recipes from China dating back nearly 5000 years. The French are also quite familiar with chives, using them as a garnish and seasoning. Chives are a good source of vitamin A and also contain a fair amount of potassium and calcium. There is some evidence that chives can improve digestion and reduce high blood pressure. The oil has antibacterial properties. 

Chives are attractive plants, which grow into clumps that are twelve inches high, and six or more inches wide. Chives are useful in the flowerbed as well as the herb garden; the grass-like spears are a wonderful contrast to the rest of the more common foliage. In early summer, established plants will produce clusters of flowers, like little pom-poms, usually light purple, which are also edible if picked before seed begins to form. If possible, grow chives near the kitchen door so they are handy when needed in a recipe. Mature bunches of chives should be divided every three years or so, and this is an easy way to get additional plants or to start off growing chives if you happen to know another gardener who has some. 

Remember I said they are easy to grow? They thrive in any good garden loam; they show a preference for slightly acid soil but will grow just about anywhere. They are drought tolerant but do best if kept moist throughout the growing season. Choose a place where they can enjoy some shade during the day. They prefer well-drained soil. A clump of chives can also be transferred to a pot and brought indoors for use during the winter. Other than that I don't pay any attention to mine at all and they seem to flourish. You can grow it from seeds, which are very tiny and do take awhile to germinate and grow. But the established clumps are available from any garden center and will produce the first year. 

Shear the plant at any time to harvest the foliage. It will quickly put out tender new growth. The young, light green blades are the best for cooking. Cut individual blades back to about two inches from the ground, rather than snipping the ends off of the whole plant. Chives do not dry well, but can be frozen for year round use. Once the chives are producing blossoms it is important to keep cutting them back to encourage growth, doing small sections at a time rather than just trimming the whole top. Use a scissors to snip the greens; this prevents bruising and avoids pulling the out whole root. Snip the greens for use in the kitchen as well. They are best when used fresh, but they can also be frozen in small plastic bags and used right out of the freezer also. For use in floral arrangements, the blossoms can be dried by laying them on fine wire mesh in a dimly light, well-ventilated area.

Most everyone has had a potato adorned with chives at some point, but they also make great additions to salads and other dishes that would benefit from their mild onion flavored leaves. The more cuttings you take, the more it produces. 


To prevent diseases, water early in the day so foliage dries before dark. Remove and destroy infected plants, plant parts and debris to keep disease from spreading. Rid your garden and surrounding areas of weeds, which are often the first stop for both diseases and insects. Remove rocks, debris and other places slugs, snails and earwigs hide. Don't combine species that share pests, such as crab apples and junipers (the cedar-apple-rust fungi). Try using row covers to bar insects from plants. 


Tomato diseases-

Early blight is characterized by dead brown spots that usually start on the lower leaves and spread up the plant. Upon close inspection, you can see concentric rings within the spots. Although early blight is most severe on the leaves, it sometimes occurs on the stems and can cause severe defoliation.  Certain varieties (Roma and Supersonic) are more tolerant of early blight than others.

Septoria leafspot is characterized by numerous small black spots on the leaves. The centers of these spots later turn white and tiny black dots appear in the white centers. The disease starts on the bottom leaves and may become severe in wet weather. 

Blossom-end rot is a dry, leathery brown rot of the blossom end of the fruit that is common in some seasons on tomatoes. It is caused by the combination of a localized calcium deficiency in the developing fruit and wide fluctuations of soil moisture. The problem is especially bad in hot weather. Soil applications of calcium seldom help, though foliar calcium sprays may minimize the occurrence of the problem. Make sure the formulation is designed for foliar application or severe damage could result. Pruning causes stress to the plants that may increase the incidence of blossom-end rot. Some tomato varieties are much more susceptible to this condition than others. Mulching and uniform watering help to prevent blossom-end rot. Once the blackened ends appear, affected fruits cannot be saved. They are best removed and destroyed so that healthy fruit setting later can develop more quickly. 



"What nature delivers to us is never stale, becuase what nature creates has eternity in it."






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