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Growing Guides

Broadleaf Endive

Healthy and tasty endives look like a head of lettuce and have wide, curly leaves. It has a slightly spicy taste and therefore goes well with summer salads. Plant seeds early or late in the season for tender leaves to avoid the blazing sun. Endive is a chicory family member and is thought to come from Egypt or the Mediterranean. Pliny the Elder claimed that its medicinal properties could purify the blood and treat insomnia. By 1200 AD, varieties of endive were known throughout Europe, where it is still loved and eaten. In America, endive came a little later, and there is a record of it in a cookbook of 1806.

How to Grow Broadleaf Endive from seeds:

• Sowing: Plant indoors 2 months before last spring frost to a depth of 1/4 inch. Root the first shoots 6 inches apart, and four weeks after planting, transplant them into the ground 12" apart. A light frost makes the endive taste sweeter, so for a fall harvest, sow endive seeds in July. Sow the seeds in moist soil, then backfill 1/3" of soil on top of the seeds. Thin out seedlings 12" in all directions. In regions with warmer winters, sow seeds about two months before the last frost.

• Growing of Broadleaf Endive: For a delicate taste, endive should be kept in moist soil. Try not to wet the leaves, as this can cause disease and rot. Mulching plants is effective in conserving moisture and in controlling weeds. To keep the endive's tenderness and shade the inside, you should tie all the dry leaves together. Do this 2-3 weeks before harvest.

• How and When to Harvest Broadleaf Endive: Cut off individual young leaves as soon as they reach the desired size. If you want to cut off the whole head, cut them off with a sharp knife at the base. Leave an inch of stem to keep the plant growing.

• Broadleaf Endive's Seed Saving: Endive gives seeds only after overwintering. If you live in a region with harsh winters, you should dig up the roots and save them until spring when it's time to repot. Trim plants to 2" and store the roots in a moist spot in moist sand at 33-40 degrees F. In regions with mild winters, add a thick layer of mulch to keep the endive from freezing. When the plant has flowered and produced seeds, collect them from the seed heads and dry them for 10 days. Store broadleaf endive lettuce seeds in a cool, dry place for up to eight years.

 

FAST FACTS

  • Latin Name: Cichorium endivia
  • Type: Open Pollinated, Heirloom, Cool Season
  • USDA Zones: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
  • Seeds per Ounce: 25,000
  • Planting Method: From Transplant
  • Sunlight: Full Sun
  • Height: 12 Inches
  • Color: Green
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