Known in Italy as Catalogna frastagliata, Italian Dandelion Chicory Seeds produce not a dandelion, but a chicory, a kind of endive. Fast growing, upright, dark-green notched leaves stand in thick bunches. Cut the plant at any height and it will re-grow again. Steamed like spinach, they have a pleasant "wild" flavour. Raw, they add bite to salad. May bolt mid-summer from spring planting. Italian dandelion chicory is quite winter-hardy, and suitable for winter gardening. If allowed to bloom, it sends up tall stalks of attractive, edible blue flowers that produce seeds that are easy to harvest and save for next season.
Click here for "true" Common Dandelion seeds.
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.