Plant Tres Fine Maraichere chicory seeds for a classic French heirloom endive known as frisée. This vegetable is not widely known in North America, but a culinary treasure in France and parts of Europe. The finely cut leaves are slightly bitter, growing in a very prostrate rosette. Growers like to bundle up the outer leaves to a point above the plant and fix them in place with an elastic band. This cuts off sunlight to the center of the rosette, resulting in a blanched interior that is much sweeter and more tender than the tough outer leaves. Frisée is best served raw with an acidic dressing, but it is unusual among greens because it can stand up to a hot oil dressing or even brief time on the grill. Its flavour is enhanced this way, and will have you returning to plant more each year. Easy to grow and delicious.
Matures in 65 days. (Open-pollinated seeds)
The chicory family includes the food plants endive and radicchio, which range in flavour from bitter to sweet. All varieties become sweeter, and lose much of their bitterness, when cooked. Try a hot oil salad dressing over endive, or a barbecued head of radicchio! Follow along with this handy How to Grow Endive and Radicchio Guide and grow food.
Cichorium endiva (endive) & C. intybus (radicchio)
Endive is easy.
Radicchio is moderately difficult.
Belgian endive (witloof) is downright challenging – but worth the effort!
Season & Zone
Season: Cool season
Sow in April and again in early July to mid-August to take advantage of the fall growing season. Optimal soil temperature: 10-22°C (50-72°F). Seeds sprout in 2-15 days, depending on conditions. In hot weather plants will go to seed quickly, so have new plantings ready to go.
Either direct seed or start indoors and transplant. Sow seeds 5mm (¼”) deep, and thin or transplant to allow 30-45cm (12-18″) between plants in rows 30-45cm (12-18″) apart.
Ideal pH: 6.0-6.5. Enrich soil with compost and add ¼ cup complete organic fertilizer into the soil beneath each transplant. Rapid, continuous growth is essential for good yields and high quality. Regular watering is essential. Fall plantings can be protected from rain by putting a cloche over them. Endive heads can be blanched ro reduce bitterness by placing a cardboard or plastic disc on top. Radicchio requires a good supply of phosphorus and potassium, but will not head and may bolt if there is too much nitrogen available. Days to maturity shown are from date of direct sowing. If transplanting, subtract 10-15 days.
Use as a cut and come again crop or let the heads develop and cut at ground level. Many will grow back.
In optimal conditions at least 65% of seeds will germinate. Usual seed life: 3 years. Per 100′ row: 140 seeds, per acre: 40.6M seeds.
Diseases & Pests
Aphids – Water can be used to remove aphids from plants. Wash the plant off with water occasionally as needed early in the day.
Moulds and rot from heavy rains can be prevented by growing under cover. Tip burn is a calcium deficiency within the plant that can be caused by an imbalance with over nutrients. Make sure you have limed the soil, do not over-fertilize and harvest just before full maturity to avoid it.