By Kathee Mierzejewski
If you’re thinking about starting your vegetable garden, you might be asking yourself, “How do I grow endive?” Growing endive really isn’t too terribly difficult. Endive grows somewhat like lettuce because it is part of the lettuce family. It comes in two forms — first is a narrow-leaved variety called curly endive. The other is called escarole and has broader leaves. Both are great in salads.
How to Grow Endive Lettuce
Because endive grows like lettuce, it is best planted in early spring. Start your early crop by growing endive in small pots or egg cartons in the beginning, then place them in a greenhouse or warm, moist environment. This will give your endive a great start. Endive lettuce (Cichorium endivia) grows best after having been started inside. When growing endive, transplant your tiny new plants after any danger of frost at the end of spring; frost will kill your new plants.
If you’re lucky enough to have warm enough weather to plant seed outdoors, Make sure to give them well-draining and loose soil. The plants also enjoy plenty of sun but, like many leafy greens, will tolerate shade. Plant your endive lettuce seeds at a rate of about ½ ounce of seeds per 100 feet of row. Once they grow, thin the plants to about one plant per six inches, with rows of endive lettuce 18 inches apart.
If you’re growing endive from seedlings you grew indoors or in a greenhouse, plant them 6 inches apart from the get go. They will take root better this way, and make better plants.
During the summertime, water your growing endive regularly so that it maintains a good green leaf.
When to Harvest Endive Lettuce
When you have endive growing, harvest the plants about 80 days after you plant them, but before the first frost. If you wait until after the first frost, the endive growing in your garden will be ruined. If you pay attention to how long it has been since you planted the endive, it should be ready to harvest about 80 to 90 days after you planted the seeds.
Now that you know how to grow endive, plan on having some really nice salads late summer and early fall.