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How to Grow Chicory (curly endive) in Ireland.

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James Kilkelly
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 14, 2009 7:58 pm    Post subject: How to Grow Chicory (curly endive) in Ireland. Reply with quote

How to Grow Chicory (curly endive) in Ireland.
By Terry Blackburn

Growing Chicory.
Chicory is grown as a salad crop and is forced in the dark. This particular chicory should not be confused with the Magdeburg chicory that has thick roots, which are roasted and blended with coffee, nor is it the form that is found in hedgerows and herbaceous borders.

Soil Preparation.
Chicory does best in soil that is rich, light and loamy but can be grown in other soil if it is well manured and enriched with organic matter during the spring. The ground should be forked over lightly then trodden firm, an application of fish manure is then added with 6 per cent potash content at 3 oz. (90g) to the sq. yd. Give a lime dressing 6 oz. (180g) to the sq. yd., if the soil is not already chalky.

Chicory (curly endive), photo / pic / image.

It is generally sown in May in the north but June in the south. Sow the seed thinly in drills 1 in. (25mm) deep in rows that are 1 ½ ft. (45cm) apart. About three weeks after sowing begin to thin out the seedlings so that they have 1 ft. (30cm) between each plant.

General Care.
Keep down the weeds with a hoe and to ensure that the surface soil is fine to deter weeds. The roots are lifted in October, November and December for forcing. Store the roots in a frost proof shed and in the following few weeks force a few at a time.

To force the chicory, cut off the tops to within an inch of the crown; then pot up 2 to 3 in. (50mm-76mm) apart in any fine soil. This is best done by inserting about 4 roots, to an 8 in. (203mm) pot with the crowns 1 in. (25mm) above the soil. The pots need to be kept at a constant temperature of 50 deg F. (10 deg C.)

Place an upturned pot of the same size over the top but the drainage hole of this pot must be bunged up to prevent any light entering. The point of this is to encourage the plants to grow again so that they produce fine hearts of pale leaves, known as "chicons". Wait until these are about 6 in. long then cut them for they will be ready to use; this period of forcing will take about 3 to 5 weeks.

To maintain a succession of "chicons" over the winter, pot a dozen or so roots every week. If the roots are left in the pots after cutting, they will throw up more leaves but these will not have a heart, even so they can still be used. However after two cuttings the roots will be finished.

Terry Blackburn. Internet Marketing Consultant, living in South Shields in the North-East of England. Author and Producer of blog Author of "Your Perfect Lawn," a 90 Page eBook devoted to Lawn Preparation, Lawn Care and Maintenance.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 27, 2010 11:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I bought a tray of chicory seedlings a while back and there has been great leaf growth.

I harvested some of the big green leaves today, and found them exceptionally bitter - probably explains why the slugs won't touch it.

Question is, is chicory only cultivated for the chicons or can you harvest the green leaves?

My chicory doesn't quite look like the ones featured in the thread - here is a better example -

"But no one puts flowers
On a flower's grave" - T Waits
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 4:55 pm    Post subject: Winter Endive, Chicons Reply with quote

More for reference for next year for those who grow their own, but some here may have grown endive.

Having lived in Holland, there is an influence from Belgian cuisine there.
A very useful, easy to care for veg that tastes delicious grown there is chicory, or endive.
My favorite version of endive is the forced winter Chicon.

The technique for growing chicon was accidentally discovered in the 1850s because of the Belgian war of independence, so it really is an accidently political veg - more about that at my own Garden Blog, dont want to waffle on here. [url]""[/url]
There are also more pics and links etc. there

The plants summer greens when sliced finely and mixed through mashed potato while still raw is pretty much their version of champ and give a lovely fresh bite to otherwise plain mash.
It also gives a very nice, slightly bitter garnish to contrast with sweeter veg like carrots or parsnips, and gives a great dash of colour to winter lentils or stews

The main thing that is required is the total lack of light when forcing, otherwise the winter endive will go green and be bitter.

I grew the greens as a catch crop, like spinach or radish, between slower growing plants like leek, parsnip or cabbage.

After the last harvest I lifted the roots. It is said that they should be grown indoors, but with the mild climate we have on the west coast and a bit of insulation they can grow outdoors here.

After harvesting the last green leaves the roots are lifted and replanted in a way that light can be excluded. If you only have a few and decide to use only flowerpots, then the drainage holes must be blocked to stop light getting in.

The roots are lifted as gently as possible and re-planted using a dibber or a deep stick, then dropped gently into the hole.

Next thing is, with a clean, sharp knife, the last remaining green chutes are trimmed to the nub, right down to the base. Don't throw them away - use them to garnish any meal.

After that the roots are watered with a general fertilizer, or in my case, a nettle and seaweed tea. Smells not so good but it feeds, and in my opinion, puts off parasites as well.

Add to that a dose of organic slug pellets. The great advantage of course is that being covered and protected from direct rain means that the pellets only need the one application for the season.

At this point I start covering them with old pots. With winter coming it also makes a good, accidental storage space and with the system I use adds extra protection against light ingress.

Next thing I do personally, because of the weather here, is over lay a fish box. This helps to further exclude light and will give the chicons extra winter protection against frost, snow, storms and ice.

After that to totally exclude light and also to offer a layer of insulation, I use an old blanket. This has its edges pushed into the earth to secure it over the winter, and is weighted down as an extra measure.

Chicons are a great veg, they can be used in salad or wrapped in ham and served with a cheese sauce. I love the fact that from one seed I get three crops, and with a bit of research I am beginning to wonder how many years I can keep getting winter and summer veg from this versatile and easy to care for plant?

My Garden blog
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