Also known as
Cultivated Endive, Escarole, Curly Endive, Belgium Endive
Photo by CandideUK (All rights reserved)
This plant has no fragrance
With its crisp texture and its sweet, nutty flavor, Endive is well-renowned throughout the culinary world. It is a robust lettuce-like, leafy herb with a pleasantly mild bitterness and it is rarely aloud to flower in order to be blanched and eaten. Not only is it enjoyed for eating, but it also have various health benefits and is used in the medicinal applications, be it more traditional than commercial. Native to Egypt and Palestine, this plant was cultivated by the Ancient Greeks and Romans for its leaves. It has since been introduced to Bulgaria, Sicilia and Belgium and is occasionally called Belgium Endive. Cichorium endivia is very similar to Cichorium intybus (Chicory), and grown in the same way to produce the blanched hearts. To confuse matters Chicory is known as Endive by the French, Endive plants are distinguished from Chicory mainly by having hairless leaves. It is also self compatible - can be pollinated by its own pollen and its ripe flowerheads and seed cases will have longer papery outer scales around their bases compared to other Cichorium species.
Common problems with Endive
Pests include aphids, darkling beetles, flea beetles, leafminers, loopers, slugs and snails, and thrips. Diseases include anthracnose, bacteral soft rot, bottom rot, damping-off , downy mildew, sclerotinia blight, septoria blight.
How to harvest Endive
The entire head should be cut at ground level using a sharp knife. Blanching will keep the core white. Harvest the plants early if very hot weather or a hard frost is expected.
How to propagate Endive
Sowing time is during Spring and Summer. Space 30cm apart and sow 25 mm deep. Germination time is from 5-10 days.
Sow the seeds 30-38 cm apart in a shaded position, can also be propagated from root divisions.
Special features of Endive
Attracts useful insects
Flowers attract bees and butterflies.
Repels harmful insects
The plants are resistant to tipburn, bolting and bottom rot.
Can be grown in large containers with good drainage holes.
Can be grown indoors to protect from frost, but enough sunlight, water and airflow is needed.
Other uses of Endive
The leaves are used to maintain healthy mucus membranes and skin, and protect against lung and mouth cancers. A very beneficial tonic to the liver and digestive system.
Rosette or curled leaves are eaten raw in salad, boiled, steamed, sautéed, or cooked in soups, stews and mixed vegetable dishes. Blue flowers are used raw as salad, served as a garnish, or pickled.
Edibles to Sow or Plant Outside in September
In vegetable beds, at the allotment or in the kitchen garden, sow these now to grow over the cooler winter months.
Edible to Sow Under Cover in May
Successional sow small batches on a sunny windowsill or in a heated propagator, ready to plant out later in the month.