Curly endive, a salad with a subtle taste

Curly endive

Curly endive is a salad green that is appreciated for its crispy fresh leaves, for the ease of its growing and its hardiness.

Key curly endive facts

Name – Cichorium endivia or latifolium
Family – Asteraceae
Type – annual

 – 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 cm)
Exposure – full sun, part sun

Soil: ordinary  –  Harvest: around 6 weeks after sowing

Sowing, planting, caring for it and harvesting will help you get great curly endive.

Sowing curly endive

Curly endive is traditionally grown in summer and fall, but it can also be sown earlier for a harvest in spring.

It is sown directly in the plot in rows from February to October. Starting early is possible, but you’ll need to protect your seedlings from the cold with cold frames, garden cloches or tunnels.

Curly endive plantingAs for summer sowing, know that curly endive loves staying cool to develop well.

  • Spring curly endive: sow in a nursery in February or March.
    As soon as frost spells are over, you may remove the tunnel.
  • Summer curly endive: sow directly in the plot from April to June.
  • Fall curly endive: sow in situ from May to June.
  • Winter curly endive: sow in a nursery from August to October.

In all cases, thin sprouts down to one every 10 to 12 inches (25 to 30 cm) as soon as the first leaves appear.

Did you know that curly endive is perfectly suited to growing in pots? You’ll be able to savor it directly from your balcony or terrace.

Planting curly endive from store-bought nursery pots

If you wish to avoid the seedling stage, it is often possible to purchase your curly endive in a nursery pot, ready to plant.

You can plant them in the ground, either in your vegetable patch or in a garden box on a terrace or balcony.

  • Space each curly endive 12 inches (30 cm) apart and water regularly.
  • Once again, just plant what you need and repeat planting regularly.

Blanching chicory or curly endive

Farmers like blanching curly endive to remove the bitterness from its leaves before eating. It turns leaves whiter.

  • How to blanch curly endiveThis step usually lasts about ten days.
  • With string or raffia, raise and bunch the leaves to cluster them around the head.
  • Cover with an opaque garden cloche or a terra cotta pot.
  • Keep watering if you feel your curly endive needs water.

It is best to blanch only as much as you need to harvest, because once blanched, curly endive won’t keep for very long.

  • Certain varieties have the knack to blanch themselves on their own.

Harvesting curly endive

Curly endive resists very well when the first colds hit, and will thus last deep into fall.

After having forced (blanched) them, harvest your curly endive by cutting them off at the root crown.

Growing curly endive in winter

It is possible to harvest curly endive all season round, and even during winter.

  • These can be sown from August to October directly in the ground.

As soon as the cold hits, protect your seedlings and plants with a small greenhouse, a tunnel, or any other device that will help your curly endive grow even though temperatures are below freezing, providing as much light as possible.

All there is to know about curly endive

Difference between curly endive, escarole, frisee and chicoryA sub-species of endive, as is escarole, curly endive (also called frisée) is rather easy to grow. Curly endive doesn’t require much care during its entire growth phase, except for light regular watering.

An annual belonging to the Asteraceae family, curly endive doesn’t deliver very energy-laden nutrition, but contains high amounts of water and facilitates digestion.

There are also many trace elements, fibers, minerals and vitamins that our bodies require.

  • In a nutshell, remember that all kinds of lettuce are easy to grow and boast high nutritional content: great assets for any gardener!

Smart tip about curly endive

Stage curly endive sowing dates and varieties to produce curly endive almost all year long.

Images: adobestock: Brent Hofacker, CC BY 2.0: Herbolario Allium; Pixabay: Javier Gálvez