The endive (Cichorium endivia) is a species of plant from the genus of chicory (Cichorium) and belongs to the daisy family (Asteraceae). It is closely related to sugar loaf, radicchio and chicory, which is also reflected in its slightly bitter taste. The frugal lettuce plant is rich in minerals and vitamins and can be grown in your own garden with little effort. But can you plant endive in the fall? In this post, we answer that question and share what to look out for when planting and harvesting endive late in the season.
Planting endive in autumn: is it possible and how to do it?
There are two types of endive: the upright batavian, or escarole, with large, broad leaves, and the curly or frizzy frisee, with a rosette of delicately serrated leaves. Wavy varieties are used for summer growing, broad-leaved varieties are hardy and well-suited for winter growing. Usually the inner leaves, which are lighter in color, are used for cooking. The pretty heads of lettuce can also be planted in beds for decoration.
Endive and other leafy lettuces are easy to grow and thrive in cool fall temperatures
When to sow endive?
Endive can be sown in two different periods. The escarole is grown in spring, while the frisee is suitable for autumn cultivation.
Frisee is suitable for autumn cultivation
Sowing endive salad: instructions
#Sowing seeds properly
If you have a short growing season, you may want to plant your endive indoors. You can do this about 6 weeks before the last frost of the season. Start by sowing the endive seeds in a nutrient-rich, well-draining peat tray. Plant the seeds about 1/4 inch deep. Keep the soil moist and in a sunny spot that gets at least 6 hours of sun a day. You can place several seeds per peat pot and keep your seeds a few inches apart to start. You will notice rapid budding, which is then a sign that you can start transplanting the plants.
Endive needs a nutrient-rich soil
#Transplant endive seedlings
Whether you’re ready to transplant the seedlings you started in the greenhouse or bought them from your local garden center, your endive seedlings can be planted outdoors once the threat of frost has passed. If you are planting for a fall harvest, consider planting your seedlings 6-8 weeks before the last frost of the season.
When you are ready to transplant your endive seedlings outdoors, you can dig a hole twice as deep as the root ball. Always use loose soil as endive roots tend to be shallow and therefore need to spread easily through the top layers of soil.
The seedlings should be about 30 cm apart, as endive needs space to grow. This plant prefers moist soil that is not soggy and enjoys cooler temperatures.
Planting the endive seedlings close together can also lead to self-bleaching
#How to care for endive seedlings?
Once your endive seedlings are fully grown, there are certain steps you can take to ensure their success. Use a hearty amount of mulch around the base to keep the shallow roots cool and moist. You can also try using shredded leaves or newspaper if you like. Endive likes to be kept cool and should be watered regularly.
The young plants grown earlier can then be planted out after three to four weeks at a distance of 30 centimeters
Fertilize #edive lettuce
In order to provide the plant with sufficient nutrients, it is important to apply compost at an early stage. Organic fertilizers are a good choice in the first place. They ensure a balanced nutrient ratio without unnecessary chemicals and animal raw materials such as slaughterhouse waste or animal excrement. It is best to choose a slow-release fertilizer. Due to the long-term effect, the endive is ideally supplied for up to three months until the end of the gardening season.
Endive needs a lot of calcium. A deficiency can cause leaf edge burns, internal burns, crown rot or edge necrosis. A calcium deficiency can be counteracted by applying soluble lime, especially organic fertilizers, and by promoting soil life. A deficiency occurs more often in poorly ventilated greenhouses with high humidity.
Magnesium is also an important nutrient for endive. A lack of this element is noticeable through yellow leaf edges, which only appear on older leaves.
Endive needs a lot of calcium. A deficiency can lead to burns, crown rot or marginal necrosis
Water the endive salad properly
Regular watering, especially in the initial growth phase, is particularly important. The young plants are susceptible to drought, but when watering you should be careful to avoid waterlogging. The soil needs to stay moist but not wet for these plants to taste their best. Dry soil makes the leaves bitter, so proper watering is essential.
When the leaf rosettes have formed, watering can be reduced, otherwise the leaves will begin to rot. Endive has shallow roots, so you may need to water them several times a week.
If the plants get too little water, they can get a bitter taste
#Grow endive in pots
If you want to grow endive in containers, it’s entirely possible. This is ideal when you need to move the plant to find shade or when you are short on space. It is recommended to grow one endive head per pot. The depth of the pot should be at least 30-45 cm. You should still use nutrient-rich soil that drains well and keeps the soil moist throughout the growing process. If the temperatures rise above 23.8 degrees, you should put the pot in the shade.
Endive can grow up to 15 cm. It is therefore recommended to grow one endive head per pot
#Endive salad in the raised bed
Endive can be successfully grown in raised beds. Take care of a moist soil and plant the seedlings at a distance of about 30 cm from each other.
Sufficient spacing is important so that the lettuces could grow properly
When is the latest time to plant endive?
Endive can also be planted from late summer to autumn.
Planting endive: This is how it works
When is endive ready if grown in the fall?
The high season for this vegetable lasts from late winter to early spring. Your endive will be ready to harvest in about 90 days. The leaves will be rich and green. Don’t delay harvesting as the leaves can become bitter and tough.
Endive plants are ready for harvest when the leaves are 12 to 15 cm, about 85 to 100 days after sowing
How do you harvest endive?
To harvest endive, you need to remove the leaves from the base of the plant. Harvest like lettuce: use a knife to cut the plant at the base. After harvesting, keep the leaves clean and dry to avoid rot. Endive does not store well, so it should be used immediately after harvest. It will keep in the fridge for no more than a few days.
Endive can be used in a variety of healthy salads, soups, and stews. Simply rinse the endive leaves well and prepare them like cabbage, kale or other leafy greens.
Cut the plant at the base with a knife. Use the salads as soon as possible
What goes well with endive salad in the garden?
Plant endive with these companions:
- mustard green
Try not to grow lettuce next to broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, or turnip greens, as these plants can prevent lettuce seeds from germinating.
Radcchio, radish and turnips are good neighbors for endive
If you want to produce your own seeds, leave particularly beautiful lettuce plants in the garden. Like many other types of lettuce, endive is a biennial plant that begins to sprout in the second year. This process is triggered by more than 14 hours of sunshine and cool temperatures. If you don’t want to wait that long, you can sow the endive in spring. Make sure that the variety you choose is not a so-called F1 variety. F1 strains are hybrids, which means they are not stable and cannot produce the next generation.
Like many other types of lettuce, endive is a biennial plant that begins to sprout in the second year
*It is best to keep the salads in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator. They remain there for several days, ideally wrapped in a cloth when wet. Especially in combination with sweet dressings, they become a special taste experience. But there are also other uses in the kitchen: for example in smoothies, stews or cooked as a side dish. The leafy greens are particularly healthy because of their bitter substances such as inhibin. The bitter substances stimulate the bile and support the liver. The endive salad is also rich in vitamins A, B and C as well as potassium, phosphorus and magnesium, making it an ideal accompaniment to any meal!