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HEIRLOOM. This old French heirloom, sometimes known as frisée, is a cold-hardy green with heavily serrated, frilly leaves, and white-blanching hearts when grown to full size. It can be used fresh in salads, or wilted in sautees or soups. It has a slight bitterness that grows stronger in hot weather, so it is typically grown in early spring, or as a fall crop.
These seeds can be started indoors in late winter and planted out 2-4 weeks before the last frost, or direct sown in the garden in late summer to early fall. They need cool weather, full sun or part shade, and consistently moist but well-drained soil. Heads will be full sized in about 87 days from seeding. 0.5 gram packet contains approximately 400 seeds.
|direct seed or transplant
|Direct Seed Spacing
|Soil Temp. Range
|Days to Sprout
|Days to harvest
|Full sun, Part shade
Endive is a cold-hardy green that can be grown easily from seed as long as it has cool weather, well-drained soil, and plenty of moisture. Plant your endive seeds in a spot that will get at least 4 hours of sun per day. Endive plants thrive in full sunlight, but they can also tolerate partial shade, especially in warmer climates. They will, however, struggle if planted in a spot with full shade. Aerate your soil before planting by working in organic material such as perlite, vermiculite, or compost. In warm climates, endive is best planted as a fall crop, direct-sown in late summer or early fall. Scatter seeds by hand in even rows on top of the soil, keeping your rows to a distance of at least 18 inches. This will accommodate the size of mature endives. Cover seeds with no more than ¼” soil. Anything more and they will not be able to push through to the surface. Water well and keep the soil moist while you wait for germination which you should see within 7 days.
When your seedlings have their first true leaves, thin them to 8 inches apart. Water regularly around the base of your plants, every 1-3 days as needed. Endive requires a lot of moisture to grow properly, but will do best if the leaves are not left wet, as this can encourage disease. You can start harvesting using the cut-and-come-again method after about a month, when the plants are a few inches tall. Snip with sharp scissors outside leaves, leaving the base of the plant intact to continue growing. Or, you can leave your plants to mature into full heads, which takes about 12 weeks. Harvest mature heads by cutting with a sharp knife at the base of the plant.
Endive and escarole (Cicorium endivia) are self-pollinating biennials. They must be vernalized (exposed to a period of cold weather) in order to trigger flowering. Often, being planted in late winter or very early spring will give the plants enough cold exposure that they will flower that same year. Because it is self-pollinating, Cicorium endivia only requires an isolation distance of 20 feet between different varieties of endive and escarole to prevent cross-pollination. Interestingly, endive and escarole (Cicorium endivia) cannot be pollinated by Belgian endive, radicchio, and wild chicory (Cicorium intybus), but endive and escarole will pollinate Belgian endive, radicchio, and wild chicory - beware if you are saving seed from both species! Endive or escarole flowers will open and mature gradually over time from the bottom of the stalk to the top, and the earliest maturing flowers may drop their seeds by the time the last ones open, so it’s best to harvest seeds when about two-thirds of the flower heads have turned brown. Cut the seed stalks, and bring them indoors to finish drying. Then thresh the seeds out by crushing the stalks, and winnow away the chaff using a box fan set on low. Store your seeds in an airtight container in a cool, dark, and dry location.