Endive grows like lettuce, it is best planted in early spring. You will want to start your early crop by growing endive in small pots or egg cartons in the beginning and leaving them in a greenhouse or warm, moist setting. This will give your endive a great start. Endive lettuce grows best after having been started inside. When growing endive, you will transplant your tiny new plants after any danger of frost at the end of spring. You don’t want any frost as it will kill your new plants. Annual or biennial herb, erect up to 170 cm, taproot containing bitter milky juice; leaves many in a basal rosette, alternate or simple, sessile, oblong, lobed or greatly cut and curled; stem progressively reduced upwards, slightly hairy or hairless, stemclasping up the stem; inflorescence head, 1-6 together, sessile with bracts; flowers 15- 20 per head, violet blue, sometimes white; fruit (achenes) reverse egg-shaped to cylindrical, attached at the narrow end, 2-3 x 1-1.5 mm, brown, with 1-3 rows of small, persistent membranous scales; seed 1 per achene.
Scientific name: Cichorium endivia
Common name: Endive
How to Grow and Maintain Endive:
Endives require full to partial sun. However, full sun is best for the majority of the growing period. Partial sun is only needed during extremely hot temperatures. If you do need to partially shade your endives, make sure you do not to leave them in the shade once the hot temperatures have passed.
Plants may be started inside in late February and transplanted into the garden in early April. Plant seed 1/4 inch deep in a container of sterile soil mix. When the seedlings are less than 1 inch high, they may be spaced 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart in a flat. The seedlings are ready to plant in the garden when they are 2 1/2 to 3 inches high. Use a starter fertilizer solution to establish a fast start and a mature plant before summer heat.
Cool to moderate temperatures are what endives like the best, ideally in the range of 35 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Hot weather is not beneficial for endives. Bolting will happen if endives remain in hot temperatures for too long. Be sure to give your endives a little shade during hot temperatures to help prevent bolting.
Proper watering will enhance good production. Soak the soil thoroughly when watering, to a depth of at least one inch each week during the growing season. Sandy soils may require more frequent watering. Mulching 3-4 inches deep with herbicide-free grass clippings, weed-free straw, or other organic material will help retain soil moisture and help suppress weeds, decreasing the need for frequent cultivation.
After the blanched heads have developed, cut the plants at ground level. If the weather turns very hot in the summer or a hard freeze is expected in the winter, cut the heads, wash, drip dry and store in a polyethylene bag in the refrigerator for later use. Discard the tough outer leaves.