There are 2 ways of growing endive:
- Buy endive plants (in a garden shop) and put them in the garden soil.
- Sow endive in the garden soil.
Both methods are described in this post.
A)# Procedure 1. Put endive plants in the garden soil
From early spring on you can buy endive plants in a garden shop. You can put them in the garden soil. Prior to planting, mix some manure or compost through the soil. Put each endive plant in a shallow pit and shove earth against the plant. The plant needs not to be planted very deep in the soil. When the plant is in a “soil block” (a small block of compressed earth), a big part of this block may be above the soil after planting. The roots of the endive will grow down into the soil.
Take care that the plants are not on top of a small hill. Water will flow away from the plant. In this case you better make a small dam around each plant.
Water the endives after planting. Bend a piece of wire netting to a tunnel shape and put it above the plants. This prevents endive plants from eating by birds or rabbits.
Water the plants at dry and warm weather. When plants are big, add water underneath the leaves, next to the stem. The leaves prevent water from fast evaporation.
Below some photos of endive plants in my garden.
April 2: In the middle of this photo you see 2 endive plants underneath wire netting. Endives have been planted at March 17.
May 1: Two bigger endive plants under wire netting.
June 1: You see one (dark green) endive plant between (light green) lettuce plants. The other endive plant has been harvested a few days ago.
B)# Procedure 2. Sowing endive in the garden soil
When you sow endive in the garden in spring, the plant start growing “normally”. But after some months the plant can form a flower and go to seed. Good weather, high temperatures and many hours of day-light makes the endive plant to form blue flowers. Further in this post you’ll find photos of endive that I have sown too early (on purpose).
(The endive plants that you can buy in the shop have been grown under special conditions (temperature, light) so they will not go to seed).
C)# Sowing date
You can sow endive in the garden soil after the longest day, so in Europe after June 21. There is little chance for the endive plant to go to seed. The plant is ful-grown in autumn, with few hours of day-light and lower temperatures. So no reason for the endive to form flowers.
Use a scoop to loose garden soil. Mix manure or compost through the soil.
Water the soil using a watering can with fine shower head.
Strew 5 to 10 seeds on the moist earth.
Strew some moist crumbled earth on the seeds. Layer thickness 1/6 to 1/3 inch.
Put an empty black flower pot on the crumbled soil.
Shove some garden soil against the black flower pot. This prevents the flower pot from blowing away.
When using the black flower pot, seeds germinate fast:
- The soil does not dry so fast during warm and dry weather.
- You don’t need to water during germination, so the crumbled layer above the seeds will not get compact by watering.
- Soil and seeds will not cool down too much during cold nights or cold weather.
- Soil and seeds will not get too wet or washed away during rain-showers.
- The flower pot indicates the sowing place.
- During very warm and dry weather, seeds and soil can be watered through the small holes in the bottom of the flower pot.
E)# Plants visible
I removed the black flower pots 5 days after sowing. The first plants are visible. Afterwards I covered the endive plants again with the flower pot.
7 Days after sowing: More and bigger plants are visible.
Some days after sowing check if small plants are visible;
- Remove the soil around the flower pot.
- Lift the flower pot.
- Dependent of temperature, small endive plants are visible 4 to 10 days after sowing.
When plants are very small, put the flower pot back over the plants and shove soil around it. Check again, 2 days later.
When plants are bigger, flower pot is not needed anymore.
Put a mark in the soil near the plants. This prevents endives from accidently hoeing or treading.
F)# Thinning out
Here you see a photo before thinning: approx 12 endive plants.
This is a photo after thinning. When endive plants are 1 to 1.5 inch high, pull out endive plants until 2 plants left. Between these 2 plants there should be some distance. Water the plants after thinning.
When the (2) endive plants are 2 to 4 inch high, pull out the smallest plant, so the biggest plant stays in the soil. Then water that plant.
Eight weeks after sowing, endive plant is big already.
G)# Under corrugated plate or in a flower pot
When you sow late endive in a row, you can put a tunnel of tranparent corrugated plate over the plants. This protects endive plants against cold and freezing weather. In this way you can store endive plants in the garden and harvest them in late autumn or early winter.
You can take some big plants out of the soil an put them in flower pots. Put the pots with plants under a roof at cold, rainy or snowy weather. Regularly water the plants by pouring water in the flower pot, so not on the plant.
H)# Test with (too) early sown endive
At April 25, 2012 I sowed endive in the garden soil. After thinning there are 2 plants left. Distance between plants is about 1 ft.
June 27, 2012. Big endive plants. Size about 9 inch. There are no flowers visible yet. This is due to cold and wet weather in June.
July 28 2012. Bigger plants. The endive at the left side of the photo shows the beginning of a flower.
August 2, 2012. Large endive plants that will form flowers.
September 1, 2012. Big endive plants with few leaves and many blue flowers.
September 1, 2012. Many flowers.
September 1, 2012. This photo shows one small endive flower. Isn’t it a beautiful flower. Diameter of a flower is about 1 inch..