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The Chicory Patch

June 19th, 2018

Chicories are notoriously difficult to grow, they can be overly bitter if the weather is too warm, or really tough if not blanched. They are picky about the amount of water that hits their leaves and will turn into a slimy mass if it’s too wet. Even though I’ve had my share of failures, that doesn’t stop me from growing a variety of endive, escarole, and radicchio each year.

My various spring started chicories are looking particularly great this year. I’ll be starting to harvest them this week. This year I’m attempting to blanch the endives under terra-cotta pots. This should help keep them drier to avoid any browning and sliming.

Even though we don’t always get fresh chicories from the garden, I always grow them in part because they are beautiful plants. Some years they are inedibly bitter for the humans, but the chickens always find them delicious. I find that the newer hybrid varieties do much better in the garden, they’re often bred to withstand less than perfect conditions with a bit more grace. I’ve had much better success since transitioning to varieties from Johnny’s Seeds.

What are some of your most loved difficult to grow vegetables?

Trying Something New

October 26th, 2015

Every year I try a few new varieties of vegetables. I love endive and decided to try growing a few different types. Right now it’s coming into season, it mellows and gets a little less bitter with the cold. I tried them before our first frost and they were bitter, no doubt they’ve mellowed out a bit with the cold weather.
growing frisee 1
I tied up all the frisee this past weekend to blanch the hearts. I covered one with a bucket to see how that would work and it seems to be working. I’m trying to see which method will work best and be the easiest to manage. I also want to see if one method works better for cold protection.
growing frisee 2
I’m pretty excited about the radicchio as well, I buy it at the grocery store throughout the winter, I’d love to be able to grow at least some of what we eat.
endive
I’m a huge fan of bitter greens, so endives are a natural choice for me. Growing them is a bit different than lettuce, I’m really enjoying the process of trying different types and learning to use them in the kitchen.

Do you grow any endive or chicories in the garden? Do you have a favorite variety?

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About

This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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