Chicory - still going strong!

Looking at the GW list of things to do, one of them was to lift chicory roots.  I planted a Brussels Witloof variety as a first time experiment for me, this year.  I have lush green plants standing 18" tall. 

Should I trim the leaves now and store the roots for forcing or should I leave them for a bit longer?  We are in Devon, near the sea, and have only had one mild frost so far.  I would be grateful for any advice on chicory growing and forcing.

Many thanks.

 

Posts

  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 19,332

    It's a big crop round here - rural central Belgium - and it was all harvested in October.  They take the foliage for cattle feed and the roots go for forcing in the dark to get the pale shoots of chicory which end up on your salad plate or braised to serve with game or be wrapped in slices of ham and baked in a cheese sauce au gratin.

    It's so cheap here I have never bothered with growing it myself but friends did last year.  Just stick the roots in buckets of compost, water and keep in a dark cellar till they grow.

    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • obelixx,

    Thanks for your reply.  My mouth is watering at the thought of those recipe suggestions! 

    I'm going to cut the tall green foliage off one of my chicory plants and try steaming it to see if it's nice to eat.  I can also then see if I have a good root growth to lift and store, ready for forcing.  I'm going to plant and force in my greenhouse as the weather appears to be on the turn now.

    I'm guessing that if we hadn't had such a warm autumn, I may have had to make decisions on my crop earlier.

    Scarify.

  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 19,332

    Lots of recipes on BBC Good Food.  Just put chicory in the search box.

    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 58,410

    The green (unblanched) leaves of chicory are very bitter - that's why we blanch the new young shoots to eat.

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh







  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 19,332

    Yes.  Process discovered by accident by a farmer in Overijse, about 30kms frpm here.   The Belgians like bitter leaves but even they draw the line at unblanched chicory, endive  (escarole) and dandelion.

    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Thanks for all the replies.  For cultivation of the chicons (or endive as I've seen them referred to), my reading suggests that I should cut the green leaves off and store the roots for forcing, bringing a few forward at a time.  One book says to keep the roots horizontal in storage. I'm guessing that a cold (but not frosty), dry, dark environment is needed for storage such as my garden shed?  Do they need to be stored in dry sand as you would for some root vegetables?

    For forcing, I'm going to use my greenhouse, in which I have a small paraffin heater. I plan to plant them in a good growing mixture and cover the pot with another to exclude light.  A local grower in Devon uses some minimal light which is described as like candle light.

    Any thoughts or tips on storing and growing?

  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 19,332

    I found the following on Google:-

    Growing Belgian endive. To produce a blanched head, dig up the chicory root and cut off the top about 2 inches above the crown or top of the root. In a cool, humid place such as an outdoor pit, cold frame, or root cellar, bury the root to force it to produce a blanched sprout: first, cut off the root tip so that the root is 6 to 8 inches long; set the root upright at a slight angle in a box, pot, or other container filled with fine sand or a mix of sand and peat moss just covering the top; water thoroughly, and keep at a temperature of 60° to 70°F. The tight, pale-green head will develop in 3 to 4 weeks.

    Have a google yourself for more info.

    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • obelixx,

     

    That's great, many thanks for the advice.  I'm hoping that I can bring on chicons through the winter by taking them out of storage a few at a time as well. I'm guessing that provided they are kept cool and without too much moisture, they should hold off sprouting the chicon until I create the conditions that you have described?

  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 19,332

    I have no idea as I buy them ready to eat, hence the suggestion that you google.

    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • HexagonHexagon Posts: 1,012
    edited September 2019
    I recently paid £1.80 for 3 chicons so started to look up seeds - £1.75 for 200.
    Then I read this thread and it’s put me right off! So much effort.
    I just enjoy the chicons raw dipped in a balsamic dressing.
    Anyone else have experience of growing this?
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