Grow Guide Conditions:
Chicories are cool season crops and grow best at 60–70°F, but can be planted in early spring as soon as the soil can be worked. Warmer conditions lead to strong bitterness. In warm climates, greater success can be had with late summer plantings that mature in the cool weather of late fall. Optimum growth occurs on well drained, fertile, high organic matter soils with a pH of 5.0–6.8. Endive and escarole are grown similarly to lettuce. Radicchio is less predictable and requires precise timing to head up, so trial several varieties each planting season to see which perform best in your location. Dandelion can be grown throughout the season.
Grow Guide Seed:
Chicories can be direct seeded or transplanted. Optimum germination occurs at soil temperatures from 60–70°F, but seeds will germinate at as low as 45°F. To start seedlings indoors, fill starter trays with a sterile seed starting mix. Plant 2 seeds per cell, 1/4 inch deep. Thin to 1 plant per cell. Harden-off seedlings for 5–7 days prior to transplanting. Transplant 5-6 week old seedlings outside in a fertile garden bed, 10-12 inches apart, allowing 18-24 inches between rows. To direct seed, plant seed 1/4 inch deep, 6 seeds per row foot, allowing 18-24 inches between rows. As the plants size up, gradually thin to one plant every 10-12 inches, eating the thinnings.
Grow Guide Pests:
Chicory is not bothered by many pests. Keep evenly watered, provide adequate Calcium and avoid excessive Nitrogen and Phosphorus to prevent tipburn. Encourage beneficial insect activity by planting alyssum nearby to suppress aphid populations.
Grow Guide Harvest:
Cut endive and escarole heads at the base when they reach full size. If desired, blanch endive and escarole by resting a plate or cone on the center of the head 3 days before harvest. Wash in cold water and store in the refrigerator to crisp up. Harvest radicchio by cutting at the base when heads have formed, remembering that a significant portion of plants may not head up depending on the timing of the planting. Harvest upright dandelion greens in bunches by cutting 1 inch above the crown to encourage regrowth.