Chicory is one of those plants that is widely used in Europe but undervalued in Australia. A bitter leafed lettuce type plant it grows easily from seed. Often found in Italian market gardeners stalls and some good greengrocers many home gardeners are turning to grow ‘cicoria lettuce’ or ‘cicoria lettuce’ for themselves.
In the 1920s to 1950s, Chicory was grown for a different purpose, it is for the root that was sought after as a substitute for coffee. It was grown widely on Philip Island in Victoria where the remnants of Chicory Kilns can still be found.
Grow your own Chicory
Chicory Endive or Radicchio are all names for a group of closely related plants. All are varieties of Chichorum intybus. They all require similar conditions, plant seeds in spring for a autumn early winter -harvest. Sow direct to soil and thin to 25cm.
- Prepare the soil well before planting.
- Dig over and amend if needed.
- Seeds should be planted at around 1 cm deep.
- Plants need to be thinned to around 25 – 30 cm apart.
- Water until seeds germinate.
- Use a low nitrogen fertiliser.
Chichory general information
- The best time to plant is in late winter to early spring, after the frosts are over.
- It is fast growing and is then harvested before summer.
- Although the plant is also grown for the roots which are baked, added to soups and dried and used as a coffee alternative, and we also have chicory tea.
- The foliage is generally blanched and eaten as a salad or green.