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Growing Chicory – How to Grow Chicory

How to Grow Chicory – A Guide to Growing Chicory

How to Grow ChicoryChicory

Chicory is frequently used in an autumn or winter salad. It is an acquired taste; some people find it refreshingly tart, others find it too bitter.

There are two main types: forcing (more popular and are said to taste better), and non-forcing (do not require blanching and are therefore easier to grow).

Recommended Varieties of Chicory

  • Witloof F1 is the standard green variety for forcing (sometimes called Belgian or Brussels Chicory)
  • Palla Rossa is a non-hardy variety which turns red as the temperature drops and which can either be forced or non-forced

Pests and Problems of Chicory

  • Slugs and snails
  • Cutworms can occasionally cause a problem

Sowing & Growing Chicory

  • Chicory needs a sunny site
  • Rake a general-purpose fertiliser into the seed bed a few days before sowing
  • Forcing varieties: sow very thinly, at a depth of 2-3 cm, in rows 30 cm apart, in May-July. When plants are becoming established, thin to 30cm apart.
  • Non-forcing varieties: as for forcing varieties, but sow in May-June and thin to 15cm apart.
  • Forced varieties of chicory can also be grown in deep pots with drainage holes (do not make holes in the lid).

Harvesting, Eating & Storing Chicory

  • Approximate time from sowing to harvesting = 18-30 weeks
  • Non-forcing varieties: harvest on demand during November – December. They will store for a short while in a dark, cool (but frost-free) place.
  • Forcing varieties: lift the roots in November, and select plants with undamaged, unforked roots with a diameter of 2-5 cm across the top. Cut the foliage back to within 2.5cm of the top of the root, and trim the length of the root back to 15-20cm. Store horizontally in damp sand in e.g. a cool shed.

When ready to produce the new young shoots to eat (these are called chicons), place up to 5 roots in a pot of 25cm diameter filled with damp multi-purpose compost, leaving the crowns just visible above the soil. Cover to exclude light (e.g. another pot with drainage holes covered) and grow on in warmth at a temperature of at least 10-13°C. A chicon should grow from each root within a few weeks.

  • Not suitable for cooking or freezing.

Additional Information

  • To force chicory outdoors, cover the trimmed roots with soil 20cm deep. Cover with cloches, straw or similar, and the chicons should appear in early spring.

Further Information on Chicory

Recipes Using Chicory

Chicory Seed & Plants

Varieties that have won the RHS Award of Garden Merit will generally give consistent good results

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