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The Complete Guide to Growing and Caring for Chicory Plant
Are you looking to add an interesting and nutritious plant to your garden? Look no further than the chicory plant! This versatile plant is not only easy to grow, but it also has a wide range of culinary uses.
In this article, we will provide a complete guide on how to grow and care for chicory plants.
What is Chicory Plant?
Chicory (Cichorium intybus) is a perennial herbaceous plant that belongs to the daisy family.
It typically grows up to three feet tall with blue flowers that bloom in mid-summer.
The leaves are toothed, lance-shaped, and grow from a basal rosette.
Chicory plants have been cultivated for thousands of years for their roots, which have many medicinal properties.
Types of Chicory Plants
There are several types of chicory plants available, each with unique characteristics:
- Radicchio: These are small heads of red or purple leaves that have a slightly bitter taste.
They’re often used in salads or cooked as part of Italian cuisine.
- Escarole: Escarole has broad green leaves that curl at the edges and has less bitterness than radicchio.
It’s commonly used in soups or stews.
- Belgian Endive: Belgian endive is grown indoors in total darkness so its yellow-green leaves remain tender white buds with yellow tips; they possess a subtle nutty flavor profile
Growing Chicory Plants
If you’re growing chicories outdoors directly sow seeds approximatley three weeks before the last frost date in your area.
The seeds should be sown about an eighth of an inch deep and spaced about six inches apart.
They prefer a sunny location with well-draining soil that’s rich in organic matter.
If you want to grow chicories indoors, sow them into pots or containers that have at least 8 inches of depth.
They require a constant temperature between 60-65°F until the seedlings emerge, then move to a warmer position with good lighting conditions.
Caring for Chicory Plants
Chicory plants are easy to care for as they don’t require much attention after germination:
- Watering: Water regularly but not excessively; chicory prefers moist soil but doesn’t tolerate waterlogging very well
- Fertilizer: Fertilize lightly in spring when growth begins, preferably with organic fertilizers
- Weeding: Remove weeds around the plants throughout their growing season
- Pest control: Use biological pest control methods (such as ladybugs) or neem oil rather than harmful chemicals.
Culinary Uses of Chicory Plant
The leaves and roots of chicory plants are often used in traditional cuisine across Europe and America.
Here are some ways you can use this versatile plant:
- Add fresh leaves to salads or sandwiches
- Sauté cooked leaves and serve as a side dish
- Roast roots for use in coffee substitutes or add them to stews/soups for extra nutrition (chicories contain antioxidants)
If you’re looking for an easy-to-grow plant with numerous culinary uses, the chicory plant is a great choice.
With proper care and attention, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of leaves and roots that will add flavor and nutrition to your dishes.
So why not give it a try?