Guide to Growing Endive
Endive – Cichorium endiva
A useful salad plant not grown as much as it deserves, An annual, belonging to the chicory family, it first became popular early in the sixteenth century. Endive resembles lettuce although the plants have to be blanched before use, otherwise they taste bitter, being useless for salads.
This crop prefers a well drained, sandy loam with a dry subsoil. The ground need not be freshly manured or very rich, the plants growing in soils having a high humus content. Work in a good organic fetiliser such asmeal, 3oz to the square metre, before sowing seed.
The earliest sowings should be made in early spring on a hot bed in heated frames or under cloches. Plant out the resultant seedlings from mid-May onwards. Outdoors, successional sowings may be made from May until early September. Space the drills 38cm apart and gradually thin the seedlings so there is about 30cm between them.
The plants will be ready for blanching about twelve weeks after sowing. This is done by tying them with raffia or covering with slates, boards, inverted flower pots with the holes blocked or with rough hay or litter. Blanching takes six or seven days, and it is best to cover a few plants at a time.
Excepting in warm districts, move the later sowings to frames or cloches for blanching. These are two distinct types of endive, curled and plain leaved. Of the former, Ruffec and Meaux are first class. The Batavian or plain leaved sort is best for winter work, since it is hardier than the curled types.
There are two main types of endive, the curled, sometimes called the Staghorn, and the Batavian, sometimes called the lettuce-leaved. In each group there are white and green varieties.
Batavian Green, compact, hardy, hearting variety with broad, thick, tender leaves.
Batavian White, more delicate in flavour and slightly less hardy than Batavian Green, but crisp and tender.
Green Curled, a larger variety with beautifully cut and curled leaves, and broad mid-ribs.
Moss Curled Green, a compact and very curled variety. Rather tender and often requires protecting by cloches or gan wicks.
Moss Curled White, finely curled with pale leaves. An epicure’s variety.