The Vegetable Garden

How To Grow Chicory From Seed

How To Grow Chicory From Seed
17We have included radicchio types alongside chicory here. Both are grown for their tasty lettuce-like heads, ready for harvesting from the autumn for use in cooked dishes or mixed leaf salads.

Some chicory varieties like Witloof Zoom F1 are lifted and 'forced' in a greenhouse to produce plump and tender, leafy heads (chicons) in winter. Radicchio like Cesare is simply left to grow outdoors, much like an Iceberg lettuce.

Sowing

Sow forcing types from April to May, 1.5cm/half-inch deep. Allow at least 35cm/14in. between rows.

Sow Radichio from mid May to August, thinly at a depth of 1.5cm/half-inch. Spacing rows 30cm/12in. apart.

Growing

Thin out chicory to 10cm/4in between plants, radicchio to 20cm/8in. apart. Water thoroughly in dry weather and give a liquid feed fortnightly in summer. 

Forcing

For forcing varieties of chicory, lift the roots September to November and discard any less than one inch (2.5cm) 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 and keep at 10-15°C/50-60°F to produce the chicons.

Harvesting

Non-forcing varieties: Cut heads from September to February; for best results give fleece protection to those kept in the soil over winter. Forcing: November to January, when the chicons are ready.

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