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How to Grow Endive

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Closely related to Chickory,  Endive is loose leafed salad green, with a slight bunching of blanched leaves in the center of the plant. There are two types: the frilly curled Endive with pointy leaves, and a smoother-leafed Escarole.

Endive has a slightly bitter, buttery taste. It is very popular, and attractive in salads. It is also popular in Italian cuisine.

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Days to Maturity:

Endive is ready to harvest in 90-100 days.

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Sowing Endive Seeds:

Endive seeds are very fine. Sow seeds in rows, or broadcast spread them over an area. Sow Endive seeds as thinly as possible. Cover the seeds with a very fine layer of loose soil or starting mixture. Or, spread them on top of the soil, and use a rake to lightly turn them into the soil. Water lightly, and keep soil moist.

Thinning plants is important. Thin to 6" apart, in rows 18" apart.

Endive are good candidates for container gardens. Try growing Endive in a container on your patio or deck.

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How to Grow Endive Plants:

Grow Endive during cool weather, spring and fall. They need full sun. Soil should be rich, well drained soil.

Endive plants like lots of moisture. Keep soil moist, but not wet.

Add fertilizer every 2-3 weeks, especially if the soil is not very fertile. Liquid fertilizer works well.

Weed the patch regularly, as weeds will compete for moisture and nutrients.

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Endive grows slower than most lettuces. You can harvest leaves as soon as it is big enough to use.

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Insects and Pests:

Bunnies like all kinds of lettuce greens. Got bunnies!? Use a rabbit fence or pest netting to keep them out.

A variety of insects can pose a real problem. Lettuce is delicate and can absorb many insecticides. If you want or need to use insecticides, look for brands that are less harmful to you and the environment. We like to avoid insecticides on leafy vegetables wherever possible. we suggest organic sprays, and a willingness to give up some of the harvest to insects, versus using pesticides. After all, one of the reasons most of us have gardens is to avoid the pesticides.

Slugs are a real problem for all types of lettuces. There are a variety of control methods. More on Slugs and snails.

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Disease problems are few, except in wet or hot weather.

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Like other lettuce, Endive thrives in cooler weather, with moderate moisture. It is not fond of mid-summer heat, or dry conditions. During summer, it can taste quite bitter. Endive is susceptible to frost and freezes.

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More Information:

More on growing Endive

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