Chicory: Endive & Escarole - Key Growing Information
CULTURE:Endive and escarole are hardy and can be planted as early as the soil can be worked. They are cool weather crops and grow best at temperatures of 60-65°F (15.5-18.3°C). Careful variety selection is important for hot weather plantings. Sow every 3 weeks for a continuous supply of fresh endive and escarole.
THERMAL DORMANCY:Endive seed can enter thermal dormancy when exposed to high temperatures above 77°F (25°C). Optimum germination results at soil temperatures of 60-68°F (15.5-20°C).
TRANSPLANTING:Sow in flats, 4 seeds/in., or in ¾" plug trays, barely covering seeds with fine vermiculite, 3-4 weeks before transplanting outdoors. Shade the flats on sunny, warm days if necessary to keep the soil surface cool, below 75°F (24°C), until germination. If sowing into flats, transplant 1-2" apart into flats, pots, or cell-type containers about 2 weeks later. Harden seedlings by reducing water and temperature for 2-3 days before planting outdoors. Properly hardened transplants can survive temperatures as low as 20°F (-6°C). Spacing closely at 8-10" encourages these varieties' self-blanching characteristics.
DIRECT SEEDING:Seeds will germinate from 41-85°F (5-29°C), but the highest germination percentage will occur around 75°F (24°C), depending on the variety and seed lot. Sow seeds 6 seeds per foot, rows 12-18" apart. Cover seed lightly, about 1/8", and firm soil gently. Dry soil must be watered to ensure coolness and moisture, and for uniform germination. Thin the seedlings 8" apart as soon as they are large enough to handle.
SALAD MIX/BABY LEAF:Sow in a 2-4" wide band, about 60 seeds/ft. Cover seeds lightly, about 1/8". Firm soil gently, and keep surface moist until emergence in 3-5 days (or longer in cold weather). Harvest at 4-5 weeks.
HARVEST:Clip individual leaves or harvest whole head by cutting with a knife just above the root attachment. Cool quickly by dunking in cold water, drain, and refrigerate.
BLANCHING:Our varieties are self-blanching, which typically occurs later in maturity. To "force" blanching earlier, or for a thorough white or cream blanch, use the French technique: about 3 days before harvest, rest a 4-6" cardboard disk or plate in the center of the plant (or tie the leaves up) to exclude light. Johnny's also offers Blanching Caps and a video of their use. These are a fixed size, so you must space plants at least as far apart as the caps are wide. NOTE: The above blanching methods are specific to Endive and Escarole and are not recommended for other chicory types.
DAYS TO MATURITY:Baby leaf varieties: from direct seeding. Full-size: from transplant; add about 10 days if direct seeding.
AVG. DIRECT SEEDING RATE:1M/160', 5M/830', 25M/4,150', 175M/acre at 6 seeds/ft. in rows 18" apart. For baby leaf: Sow in 2-4" wide bands, 6 seeds/in., 1M/13'; 5M/65'; 250'/oz.; 4,000'/lb.
TRANSPLANTS:Avg. 500 plants/M (2 seeds per cell, thinned to one seedling).
SEED SPECS:SEEDS/OZ.: 14,000-22,400 (avg. 18,000).
PACKET:200 seeds sows 33' full size, and 2½' for baby leaf.