How To Grow Endive
With today's interest in finding new ways to consume more green vegetables, it was only a matter of time before people rediscovered endive. It's a wonderfully low-calorie vegetable filled with helpful nutrients.
Unlike spinach, kale and other green leafy vegetables, endive can be eaten raw as it does not contain harmful oxalates. Curly endive makes a fantastic addition to soups and stews. Chopped fine, it enhances pasta sauces and sandwich fillings. Belgium endive is extremely versatile and its flavor changes subtly depending on how it is cooked. It can be used to make fine gourmet dishes. By learning how to grow endive, you'll have plenty on hand for all your culinary needs.
Growing Curly Endive
Start seeds in early to mid-summer in an indoor tray with a transparent cover. Moisten soil with water, then drop two seeds into each container. Cover lightly with more soil and moisten again. Cover tray and keep at 60-70 degrees until germination. Begin putting the tray under a grow light during daylight hours or keep it in a sunny window. In about four weeks, begin setting the tray outside for a few hours each day for about a week, then transplant into the garden. Use rich soil and plenty of natural fertilizer. Dig holes 6-8 inches apart and put the seedlings in. Keep well watered. Plants should mature in about two months. Harvest a few leaves from each plant at a time.
Blanching -- How And Why
Blanching is done when the plant is almost mature. Many people tie the endive plant's outer leaves tightly around the plant, completely covering the inner leaves. Leave it like that for two to three weeks. Discard the outer leaves. The inner leaves will be pale green or white. You can also simply cover the entire plant to block light.
Blanching reduces the bitterness of the leaves, but it also diminishes their nutrient content. You may want to leave a few plants unblanched, as the bitterness not only imparts a lively tang to salads and other cuisine, but is good for the liver.
Growing Belgium Endive
Begin in late spring. Use a well-drained soil with moderate fertilizer. Prepare the soil by digging and loosening thoroughly. Create furrows about two inches deep, with soil well loosened, and water before planting. Drop in four seeds at six-inch intervals along the furrow. Water regularly.
To blanch Belgium endive, dig up plants when mature and let them lie on the ground for a few days to dry. Cut the foliage off about two or three inches above the root. Fill a deep pot with compost and put the roots in it so that they are standing straight up. Add more compost until the roots are covered. Make sure the remnant of the foliage is above the top of the pot. Water well. Cover the pot or set it in a cool dark place and keep moist. When you see the green-white "chicons" or leaf heads poking out of the soil, you can begin to harvest them.