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How to Grow Chicory, Belgian Endive, and Radicchio

Posted Mar 08 2009 3:13pm

Chicory, Belgian endive, and radicchio are cool weather crops, all grown from the same plant. Sow chicory seed in the garden as early as 2 to 3 weeks before the average date of the last frost in spring. Grow chicory and radicchio in temperatures ranging from 45° to 75°F. Plant chicory and radicchio so that it comes to harvest in cool weather.

 

Chicory, Belgian endive and radicchio are differing varieties of the same plant, Cichorium intybus.

• Chicory produces a rosette of green leaves which can be used in salads. The dried, fleshy taproot of chicory can be ground and used as a substitute for coffee.

• Belgian endive is grown for its pale-green, tightly-wrapped leaves used in salads; the plant near maturity is trimmed and buried in damp sand and grown on to create a dense, succulent blanched head.

• Radicchio is grown for its rosette of broad red leaves used in salads; its leaves are similar to the leaves of chicory but with more biting flavor. Radicchio often form a head 3 to 5 inches across.

 

Prepare and serve Belgian endive: click here

 

Prepare and serve radicchio: click here

 

Chicory and endive should not be confused. They belong to the same botanical family and often are used interchangeably, but they are not the same plant. Chicory, Belgian endive, and radicchio are the plant Cichorium intybus. Endive and escarole are the plant Cichorium endivia. If you want to produce chicory root or the Belgian endive grow chicory; if you want to grow red-leafed radicchio choose a radicchio cultivar. If you are growing specifically for greens, grow endive or escarole.

 

Chicory is a hardy perennial with a long, fleshy taproot, a rosette of leaves, and a branched flower stalk topped with pale blue flowers.

 

Chicory has two stages of development. The first stage produces the rosette of leaves and the harvestable root. In the second stage, the harvested root is re-buried upright in damp sand or soil until it produces a new sprout or narrow head of blanched, pale green leaves known as Belgian endives.

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