8 secrets for planting and growing chicory in planters and your garden
When we talk about greens in the winter, we are referring mainly to chicory that is a special choice in our kitchen. We find chicory to grow wild in fields, but we can grow them in our garden and in a pot on the balcony to have our own production. We enjoy them boiled with lemon, fresh olive oil, and coarse salt, as well as in various recipes with fish and meat. Known since antiquity, chicory has a high nutritional value, as they contain several vitamins, carotenoids, and minerals such as iron, phosphorus, and magnesium. Let’s look at the most important care tips needed to grow chicory to enjoy a rich harvest.
What are the best-known varieties of chicory to cultivate?
There are many types and varieties of chicory to choose from and grow. Initially, the wild chicory with the bitter taste and characteristic green toothed leaves that blush at their base. Stamnagathi is also a variety of wild chicory. And then there is the daily chicory with the upright, wider leaves, lighter in color at the base, and with a less bitter taste. Also, the Italian chicory with the upright toothed leaves, the spicy bitter taste, and the many harvests. Let’s not forget the chicory variety with the crimson leaves and the white nerves that close like the lettuce leaves. Chicory has a strong spicy taste when eaten raw, which weakens when baked.
What conditions does chicory cultivation require?
Chicory is a vegetable that loves the cold environment and that is why it is planted in the autumn season when we have low temperatures, humidity, and a few hours of daily sunshine. After all, at high temperatures, chicory blooms prematurely and is unsuitable for consumption. We plant the chicory in sunny or semi-shady places and we prefer rich, fertile, and cool soils that ensure good drainage. If we plant in the ground, we incorporate organic matter in the form of compost and well-digested manure for better chicory growth. To plant it in a pot, we use a topsoil special for vegetables, rich in organic matter and nutrients, and place the pot on a balcony with western or eastern exposure for the chicory to thrive.
At what distances are chicory planted?
The chicory is propagated by seed that grows after 7-10 days in suitable humidity conditions and temperatures between 16-20 ° C. We sow the seed in our garden or in a pot, at a depth of about one centimeter and water it lightly so that the soil gets wet without flooding. Suitable planting distances for chicory cultivation are about 40-50 cm between planting lines and 20-30 cm between chicory plants, depending on the variety. After sowing and when the chicory plants germinate, we dilute the plants to keep them at the right distances, so that they can grow better.
How often does it need watering and fertilizing to grow chicory?
Chicory does not have excessive water requirements, however, we must keep the soil relatively moist. After all, during the growing season, autumn rains also help with watering. However, frequent and constant watering will be needed in early spring, when the temperature rises significantly. For chicory fertilization, in addition to incorporating organic matter during planting, it is advisable to add organic nitrogen fertilizer 20-30 days after replanting once a month, especially if we harvest a lot.
What other care does chicory need?
The most important crop care for chicory is the removal of weeds, the unwanted grass that must be constantly treated with carvings and weeds. Also, we only need to take care of proper protection from the snails that can eat its foliage. Treating snails with ash is an easy, economical, and effective solution for amateur growers. Chicory is particularly resistant to fungal and insect infestations and does not need to be treated precautionarily.
When and how is chicory harvested?
Chicory is harvested with a knife about 2.5-3.5 months after sowing, in late winter and early spring, depending on the variety of chicory we cultivate. For wild chicory, a cut is made by uprooting the plant along with part of the root, while in Italian and daily chicory the leaves can be cut and have several cuttings during the growing season. It is best not to uproot the chicory during the harvest and let them produce flowers, which leave a seed in the garden for the next year.
And one last secret about growing chicory
Chicory is an excellent cultivator in the field along with other autumn vegetables grown during the winter. Specifically, we can plant chicory together with cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, onion, garlic, and leek.