Escarole, a lettuce that resists cold weather well

Escarole, chicory

Escarole is a salad green that is appreciated for its delicious leaves and for the ease of its growing and its hardiness.

Key Escarole 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 escarole

Escarole is often grown in summer and fall, but it can also be sown earlier for a harvest in spring.

It is then sown under shelter 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.

As for summer sowing, know that escarole loves staying cool to develop well.

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 escarole is perfectly suited to growing in pots or garden boxes? You’ll be able to savor it directly from your balcony or terrace.

Planting escarole from store-bought nursery pots

How to plant escaroleIf you wish to avoid the seedling stage, it is often possible to purchase your escarole 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 escarole 12 inches (30 cm) apart and water regularly.
  • Once again, just plant what you need and repeat planting regularly.

Blanching escarole

As soon as the escarole is large enough, it is important to blanch it.

Blanching escaroleBlanching the escarole will remove the bitterness from the leaves before eating.

  • This 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 escarole needs water.

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

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

Harvesting escarole

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

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

Growing escarole in winter

Escarole is one of the most hardy lettuce-type greens.

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

  • These can be sown from August to October directly in the ground.
  • However, protect your escarole before the first frost spells if need be.

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 escarole grow even though temperatures are below freezing, providing as much light as possible.

All there is to know about escarole

A sub-species of endive, escarole is rather easy to grow. Escarole doesn’t require much care during its entire growth phase, except for light regular watering.

Cooking with escaroleAn annual belonging to the Asteraceae family, escarole doesn’t deliver very energy-laden nutrition, but contains high amounts of potassium and facilitates digestion.

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

  • In a nutshell, remember that escarole is easy to grow and boasts high nutritional content: great assets for any gardener!

Smart tip about escarole

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