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Chicory, endive and radicchio

The names associated with this vegetable are somewhat confusing. We have also included endive and radicchio types here. They are mainly used to add flavour to non-summer salads.


Chicory is either grown for its large lettuce-like heads ready for harvesting from the autumn, or for its roots which are lifted and forced in a greenhouse to produce plump leafy heads (chicons) in winter.

Endive is grown as a cut-and-come-again crop and is usually blanched to reduce its bitter content.


Cultivars of chicory for forcing are sown in May and June, non-forcing ones in June and July. Endive can be sown from April to August. Sow thinly 13mm (0.5in) deep in rows 30cm (12in) apart.


Thin seedlings of forcing types to 15cm (6in) apart, non-forcing ones to 30cm (12in) and endive to 23cm (9in) apart.

Water thoroughly in dry weather and give a liquid feed fortnightly in summer.

For forcing types, lift the roots in November and discard any less than 2.5cm (1in) across at the crown. Cut back leaves to 2.5cm (1in) above the crown. Pack roots horizontally in sand in a cool shed until they are required. Force a few at a time by planting five in a 25cm (10in) pot of moist compost, leaving the crown exposed. Cover with a black polythene bag or pot with drainage holes covered to exclude the light and keep at 10-15C (50-60F) to produce the chicons.

Start blanching endive and radicchio about 12 weeks after sowing. Make sure the leaves are dry and loosely tie together. Cover with a black plastic pot with the drainage holes covered.

Non-forcing types: cut heads in autumn; give protection to those kept in the soil over winter.
Forcing: the chicons are ready when 15cm (6in) high, which takes up to four weeks.
sever the head with a knife when the leaves are creamy white.







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