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Endive

UK Garden Centre - Information about Endive

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A popular feature of the Continental but not the English salad. The French housewife buys endive as chicorée frisée – to make it even more confusing our plump-headed chicory is called endive on the other side of the Channel! Endive has a much more distinctive taste than lettuce and has the blessing of being available between January and March from the garden. By sowing at monthly intervals you can have heads for six months or more during the year, but you will always have to blanch them before cutting in order to remove much of the bitterness. The curly-leaved varieties are sown in spring and summer for their finely divided frizzy leaves in summer and autumn. The broad-leaved sorts are hardier – cloche-covered heads will survive the winter.

Seed facts
Expected germination time: 3-7 days
Approximate number per ounce: 20,000
Expected yield from a 10ft row: 10-15 heads
Life expectancy of stored seed: 5 years.
Approximate time between sowing and cutting: 15-20 weeks
Ease of cultivation: Not easy – good soil, regular watering and blanching required.

Soil facts
· Good soil is needed – endive is not happy in sticky clay. Pick a sunny spot for summer- and autumn-sown crops – a semi-shady site is suitable for spring-sown endive.
· Dig in autumn – incorporate manure or compost if the soil is short of humus. About a week before planting apply a general-purpose fertilizer.

Seed sowing
· Sow seed thinly ½ in (1cm) deep in rows 12in (30cm) apart, and cover with fine soil firm down the surface after sowing.
· Sow curly-leaved varieties in March – August or broad-leaved varieties in July – September for late autumn and winter use.

Calendar
Sowing time: Mid April to the end of August; can extend from late March to early September.
Cutting time: September to February; can include late August and March to mid April.

Looking after the crop
· Thin the seedlings as soon as the first true leaves appear. Continue thinning at intervals until the plants are 9in (23cm) (curly-leaved varieties) or 12in (30cm) (broad-leaved varieties) apart.
· Hoe regularly and feed occasionally with a liquid fertilizer. It is essential to water thoroughly in dry weather – plants will run to seed if you fail to do so.
· Begin the blanching operation about 12 weeks after sowing. Choose a few plants, as required, and make sure the leaves are dry. Loosely tie up the leaves with raffia and cover with a plastic flowering pot. Block the drainage holes to exclude light. The heads will be ready in 3 weeks (summer) or 5 weeks (winter).

Harvesting
· Sever the head with a sharp knife when the leaves have turned creamy white.

Varieties
Broad-leaved varieties
Batavian Green: The most popular broad-leaved endive.
Winter Lettuce-Leaved: You will find this variety recommended in some textbooks, but you will have to search to find a stockist.

Curly-leaved varieties
Green Curled: The basic type of curly-leaved endive.
Moss Curled: Another variety, but you will find it impossible to distinguish from the Green Curled. As you would expect from the name, the leaves are finely divided.

Troubles
Slugs
Aphid
Bolting


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