Site and soil | Varieties | Sowing | Harvesting
Chicory and endive are not common vegetables in Irish gardens but they are not difficult to grow, and they add to the range of salads. Chicory resembles lettuce and the two are related, both members of the Daisy family. Lettuce has yellow flowers and the flowers of chicory are a lovely soft blue, but the flowers are rarely seen because these vegetables are grown for their leaves as salad. Chicory is correctly Cichorium intybus and endive is Cichorium endivia.
Endive is quite bitter and needs to have its leaves tied together or covered to ‘blanch' the leaves and reduce its bitterness. However, there are ‘sugarloaf' chicories and radicchio with red leaves that are not as bitter, or not bitter at all, depending on variety and growing conditions. Chicory can have its roots lifted and forced in a warm dark place in winter, known as ‘chicons', for use as a winter salad. The ‘Witloof' type is used of this purpose.
Site and soil
Choose a sunny, warm spot with good, rich soil.
Good varieties include: ‘Witloof'(forcing chicory), ‘Sugarloaf'(leaf chicory), ‘Green Curled' (endive), ‘Rossa di Verona' (radicchio).
Sow in late spring or early summer in warm soil and avoid any check to growth by thinning to 15 cm apart in good time and watering as needed. Repeat sow the salad types.
The leaf types are cut for salad use as soon as they big enough.
Forcing: In late autumn and winter, the thickest roots are lifted, the leaves cut back just about the roots and the roots forced in a pot of compost in a dark, warm place. A few roots are used at a time as needed. It takes about three weeks to produce the ‘chicons'.