Growing Chicory, also Witloof, Belgian endive

Jan F M A M J J A S O N Dec
                  P P  

(Best months for growing Chicory in New Zealand - cool/mountain regions)

P = Sow seed

  • Sow in garden. Sow seed at a depth approximately three times the diameter of the seed. Best planted at soil temperatures between 50°F and 68°F. (Show °C/cm)
  • Space plants: 10 - 12 inches apart
  • Harvest in 16-24 weeks. Will need forcing before final harvest.
  • Compatible with (can grow beside): Carrots, onions, Florence fennel, tomatoes.

Your comments and tips

27 Aug 16, Geoff (Australia - temperate climate)
Chicory, including the red variety called radicchio in Australia, is a very diverse group of plants from small and mid-sized pale and dark green varieties grown for their leaves and stems, variegated red and green heading varieties to red heading varieties with white ribs such as the classic Treviso, palla rossa, rossa di Verona etc. There are also varieties, including witloof or Belgian endive (actually a chicory) that near maturity leaves are cut off at ground level and the roots either lifted and replanted in a dark area such as a cellar or covered by a light-excluding bucket or the like. the shoots are white or pale coloured because they are grown in the dark. Grumolo varieties of chicory are treated similarly, except they are grown with full light exposure after cutting and develop the most attractive rosettes of either red or green leaves. Small cutting chicories such as zuccherina di Trieste can be grown all but mid summer in temperate zones, while the larger varieties, particularly the heading varieties need to mature in cool or cold weather so need to be planted in mid to late summer. Think of them as savoy cabbages or Brussel sprouts.
16 Jan 17, Wilbur van Wyk (South Africa - Dry summer sub-tropical climate)
I live in Pretoria and want to know where i can purchase witloof seeds I will appreciate any information Regards Wilbur
18 Jan 17, Te Pi' (New Zealand - temperate climate)
Hi, I had red lettuce seeds now it appears I actually have some type of dark-red leaved chicory, its very bitter as a lettuce lol, would anyone be able to give me an idea of what variety this might be? Can Chicory and lettuce cross breed at all? Does anyone want some seeds to try out if they germinate etc after harvest?
20 Jan 17, John (Australia - temperate climate)
It appears your 'red lettuce' is aactually Radicchio which has a hot peppery taste. It is generally loved by Italians and there are many recipes on the internet for its use. If it is grown fast with less light it is likely to be les bitter. Sorry I can't help you more. Trust this helps.
01 Feb 17, anna (New Zealand - temperate climate)
well hot peppery does not quite describe the flavour in my eyes. it´s bitter and tangy, needs some getting used to for raw consumption. one of my favourite recipies is risotto with radiicchio or simply slicing it thinnly, add oil, a splash of balsamic/lemon or wine and top with grated blue vain cheese,put under grill for 10 or until tender- eat with toasted white bread ;-)
05 Feb 17, (Australia - temperate climate)
Would love to grow witlof /chicory where can I buy the seeds, I live in PE, thanks
06 Feb 17, John (Australia - temperate climate)
Eden Seeds have chicory seed. I'm not sure whether they are in far northern NSW or SEQld but you will find them on the internet.
15 Aug 17, Mario Skapin (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
i planted about 40 seeds of witlof in the beginning of April and the leaves are between 400 and 600 mm high i understand that it should be around 5 months before forcing is done, i don't fully understand the term forcing or blanching what does it mean can someone please explain this to me and also what is the simplest way to do this final stage of witlof growth cycle. can it be done in the garden where they grow? my understanding is that the the complete witlof be taken from the ground and the leave cut off about 50mm from the root and the root to be cut to about 250mm and then replanted within 30mm of each other and covered to exclude daylight for about 12 weeks. does it need watering or fertilising while this last process takes place please help as i would almost cry if all this work to date is wasted Thank you Mario
16 Aug 17, Mike (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
Go to a website called growveg.com.au - tells about forcing chicory. Go to different websites and read about it and blanching. Sounds like you are on the right track with it. I wouldn't fertilise it and light watering maybe. Google it and read up. Good luck.
16 Aug 17, Mike (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
Another gourmet delight born of a quirk of history is forced chicory. Like rhubarb, chicory can be ‘forced’ by removing mature roots to a warm, dark place in order to coax them into rapid and early growth. Why? Because what follows is a more tender, sweeter and altogether sumptuous experience than would otherwise be had. It’s a dark art, but a magnificent one!
Showing 31 - 40 of 48 comments

I am from belgium and this is one of the very few things i miss from that cold country! In my 5years here i've only found it once, just a random addition to the regular veggies at woolies one week, but sadly never again. Does anyone know where i could buy over here (or seeds and try and grow it i suppose, although thats a lot of hassle in this case i reckon)? And my suggestion is definitely in the oven with ham and lots of cheese ;)

- Catharina Claessens

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