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Articles about Vegetable Crops for the Garden

  Advantages of Container Vegetable Gardens
  Best Vegetable Crops for Containers
  Brandywine Tomatoes - Get the Most From This Heirloom Variety
  Choosing a Site For Your Home Vegetable Garden
  Container Vegetable Gardening Tips
  Container Vegetable Gardens
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  Getting Children Interested in Growing Vegetables
  Grow Your Own Salad
  Growing Tomatoes in Pots
  Growing Vegetable Plants Becomes More Than Just A Hobby
  How to Grow a Vegetable Garden
  Indoor Container Vegetable Gardening Ideas
  Indoor Vegetable Gardening How to Tips
  Learning About Indoor Container Vegetable Gardening
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  Organic Container Gardening - Simple and Easy Ways to Grow Vegetables and Flowers in Pots
  Organic Vegetable Cultivation Table
  Over Wintering Chilli Pepper Plants
  pH preferences of food crops
  Planning your Container Crops
  Planting Tomatoes Upside Down
  Potato Container Garden Tips
  Preparing a Vegetable Garden
  Review: Food4Wealth by Jonathan White
  Vegetable Container Garden Tips
  Vegetable Crops in alphabetical order by name
  Why I Recommend Vegetable Container Gardening
  Why Vegetable Container Gardening is Getting More Popular Today Than Ever
  How to grow organic Asparagus
  How to grow organic Aubergines
  How to grow organic Beetroot
  How to grow organic Broad beans
  How to grow organic Broccoli
  How to grow organic Brussels sprouts
  How to grow organic Cabbage
  How to grow organic Calabrese
  How to grow organic Carrot
  How to grow organic Cauliflower
  How to grow organic Celeriac
  How to grow organic Celery
  How to grow organic Celtuce
  How to grow organic Chinese broccoli
  How to grow organic Chinese cabbage
  How to grow organic Chicory
  How to grow organic Corn
  How to grow organic Cucumbers and Gherkins
  How to grow organic Endive
  How to grow organic Florence fennel
  How to grow organic French beans
  How to grow organic Garlic
  How to grow organic Globe artichokes
  How to grow organic Jerusalem artichokes
  How to grow organic Kale and borecole
  How to grow organic Kohl rabi
  How to grow organic Komatsuna
  How to grow organic Land cress
  How to grow organic Leaf beet
  How to grow organic Leeks
  How to grow organic Lettuce
  How to grow organic Mizuna
  How to grow organic Mustard greens
  How to grow organic New Zealand spinach
  How to grow organic Onions
  How to grow organic Parsnips and Hamburg Parsley
  How to grow organic Peas
  How to grow organic Peppers (hot and sweet)
  How to grow organic Potatoes
  How to grow organic Radishes
  How to grow organic Rocket
  How to grow organic Runner beans
  How to grow organic Salad onions
  How to grow organic Salsify, Scorzonera and Scolymus
  How to grow organic Seakale
  How to grow organic Shallots
  How to grow organic Spinach
  How to grow organic Squash
  How to grow organic Swede
  How to grow organic Texsel greens
  How to grow organic Tomatoes
  How to grow organic Turnips




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Organic Gardening:


How to grow organic Chicory


by

Witloof chicory
Chicons are good for winter salads, or can be served cooked

Chicory (Radicchio)

Cichorium intybus

Family: Compositae (Group 4)

Chicory is a hardy vegetable, grown mainly for winter salads, but also used cooked. It is generally divided into three types, Witloof or Belgian, Sugar loaf and Radicchio or Red chicory. Each is cultivated in a different way. It is also sometimes grown as a herb. See herb chicory.


Recommended cultivars

Witloof Belgian
Zoom F1
Normato F1

Witloof forcing chicory is grown for its chicons, obtained by forcing roots in the dark in winter.

Site/soil

Witloof chicory grows best on an open site with fertile soil, but not freshly manured, or the roots will fork.

Cultivation

Sow thinly in May to early June in 30cm (12") rows, thinning to 20cm (8") apart. During summer keep well weeded and water to prevent soil drying out. Leave plants growing until late Autumn.

Forcing in situ

This is only possible on light or sandy soils. Heads forced outdoors will be ready later than those forced indoors, but better flavoured. In October or early November cut the leaves off about 2.5cm (1") above the neck (the leaves can be eaten). Earth up the stumps so that they are covered with about 15-18cm (6-7") of soil. To speed up development, the ridge can be covered with straw or cloches. The chicons will slowly force their way through the soil and will be ready for cutting between January and March.

Forcing indoors

Lift the roots any time between late October and December, discarding fanged or thin ones. The ideal size for forcing is 4-5cm (1½-2") in diameter at the top. Trim the leaves off 2.5cm (1") above the neck. Store flat until needed in boxes in a shed covered with sand to prevent them drying out, or outside covered with straw.

Force a few roots at a time between December and April. Fill a 20-22cm (8-9") pot with old compost, soil or sand and stand as many roots in it as will fit, trimming if necessary to 18-20cm (7-8"). Cover with another flower pot of the same size, blocking the drainage holes to completely exclude light. Put the pot in a warm place at a temperature of 50ª-64ª F (10ª-18ª C), such as an airing cupboard. Make sure all light is excluded, but give plants plenty of headroom, as rot may develop in a stagnant atmosphere.

Alternatively, plant the roots in the soil under greenhouse staging or in cold frames, cover with 20cm (8") soil, sand, leafmould etc.

With all forcing methods, water the soil if it becomes dry.

Harvest

Heads of earthed up chicory are ready when the tips are visible, and heads forced indoors when they are 10-12cm (4-5") tall and look sturdy. Cut with a sharp knife 2.5cm (1") above the neck. The roots will sometimes resprout to give a second, smaller head. Keep chicons covered or in a dark place until required, or they will become green and bitter.


Recommended cultivars

Old varieties: Bianca di Milano, Pain de Sucre, Sugar Loaf
New varieties: Poncho, Snowflake (or Winter Fare)

Sugar loaf chicory looks rather like cos lettuce, with tightly packed leaves. It is grown mainly for an autumn crop, but can be grown throughout winter with protection and as cut and come again seedlings. It prefers fertile, moisture retaining soil.

Cultivation

Sow in June and July in 30cm (12") rows and thin to 25cm (10"). Keep well watered during summer. Provide protection with cloches, straw or bracken (held in place with wire hoops) before the first frosts.

A second sowing can be made in July or August for transplanting under cover in autumn for a winter crop, treated as a cut-and-come-again semi-mature crop.

Harvest

Always cut the heads 2.5cm (1") above the soil, leaving the stump to resprout. Cutting can start in autumn and continue as required.

Pests and diseases of Witloof and Sugar loaf varieties

Cold wet weather may cause rotting. Remove any decayed leaves, but leave the stump, as it may recover.


Recommended varieties

Early: Alouette, Cesare, Rossano
Standard: Red Devil, Red Treviso*, Verona Palla Rossa*
*can be forced

Red Chicory or Radicchio is characterised by its red or variegated colouring. It develops a small crisp heart. Older cultivars tend to have loose green heads in summer, which start to form tighter hearts and develop a reddish colour in the colder nights of autumn. Newer cultivars are larger and have denser hearts earlier in the season.

Red chicory is mainly used shredded in salads, but can be cooked. The flavour is naturally quite bitter, the crisp inner leaves less so.

Site/soil

Red chicory tolerates a wide range of soil types and a wide range of temperatures.

Cultivation

Sow early varieties from late April to May for a summer crop. Make the main sowing in June and early July for autumn cropping. Sow in August for transplanting under cover in September for a winter crop. Plants grown under cover in winter grow larger and form good hearts. Some types can be forced like Witloof.

Sow thinly in situ, in seed trays or modules for transplanting. Spacing is 20-35cm (8-14") each way according to variety. Early crops benefit from crop covers.

In late autumn, protect with cloches or straw to prolong the season. In mild winters, plants may last through to spring.

Harvest

Either pick individual leaves as required or cut hearts as for sugar loaf chicory, leaving stumps to resprout.

Pests and diseases

Rarely attacked, although leaves can rot in damp weather or under cover. Remove decaying leaves. The plants often recover in warmer weather.





Article ©2004 Frann Leach. All rights reserved.

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