Harvesting and Using Chicory
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CHICORY FOR LEAVES
If you are growing chicory for its leaves then they will be ready for harvest when a
good "heart" has formed. Generally speaking the chicory will be about 30 / 45cm (12 /18in)
high when it is ready for harvest.
Pull the chicory plant, roots and all, gently from the soil. Chop off the roots and throw
them onto the compost heap. Chicory leaves keep very well in the fridge, they stay crisp
much longer than lettuce.
CHICORY FOR CHICONS
It is possible to force chicory to produce chicons whilst it is left in the soil. To do
this, cut the stem and leaves off leaving just a 5cm (2in) stem. Draw the soil up around the
stem to just cover it. The chicons will grow off the root under the soil and will be ready
for harvest in two to three weeks.
The best way to force chicons to grow though is to remove the plants from the ground and
force them in a cool greenhouse or shed. Forcing chicory is slightly more complicated than
normal but if you get it right then chicons can be yours for the eating from early December
through to mid February.
If you lift chicory and force them all at once you will end up with a glut of this tasty
vegetable. It's best to force them over a two to three month period. To do this you will
need to dig up the roots, prepare them for storage and then force them, a few at a time, as
needed. For step by step instructions on how to force chicory,
Cooking and Storing
Blanched chicory is not bitter and can be used directly in salads. Radicchio doesn't need
blanching and its red leaves look and taste great in late autumn and winter salads.
Chicory grown without blanching is best steamed and served with a knob of butter.
Chicons can be eaten uncooked in salads. They can also be braised with either bacon or
encased in ham parcels.
If you want chicory for the leaves then two excellent varieties are Pain de Sucre and Palla
Rossa (red leaves). For chicons, choose any witloof variety, a superb one is Brussels Witloof.
Pests and Diseases
Chicory is a fast growing strong vegetable and resists most pests and diseases. Where it is
grown in damp conditions it may suffer from rotting and decaying leaves. The solution is not
to plant chicory in damp stagnant areas of the garden.
The only other problem they can occasionally suffer from is the dreaded slug. Chicory and
radicchio are not the slugs favourite but they do eat them sometimes.
Click here for how to deal with slugs in
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