This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
(Cichorium Endivia). Composite. A leaf-salad plant. See Cichorium.
Until recently endive has been almost unknown in American home gardens, but it is gradually receiving favor with salad-lovers. Although more frequently a product of the amateur, during August and September, and possibly later, it is now freely offered in the larger markets. It is especially the people of foreign descent who grow, buy and use endive. In the hot weather of summer and fall, when lettuce plants are more likely to produce seed-stalks than good solid heads, endive, although of somewhat bitter flavor when unbleached, makes a good and acceptable substitute for lettuce as a salad plant. In the unbleached state it may even be used for "greens."
The requirements as to culture are simple, as the plant succeeds well on any ordinary well-enriched garden soil. Seed may be sown in the open ground as early as June, and as late as August, the rows to be a foot apart and the plants to be thinned early to a foot apart in the row; or seed may be started in flats and the young seedlings transplanted to open ground. The latter is the better way when the ground is very dry. In extreme cases, it may be advisable for the home gardener to grow his seedlings in flats and pot them off in thumb-pots to become well rooted. This gives a chance to grow good plants, while waiting for a rain to moisten the open ground. To be tender, the plants should be forced into strong and succulent growth by high feeding and the free use of the hoe. It is a waste of effort to plant endive on poor land that is deficient in humus, or naturally dry and exposed.
The originally bitter flavor becomes pleasant and acceptable when the leaves or hearts are well blanched. The blanching is accomplished by tying the outer leaves over the heart with bast (Fig. 1395), or by placing a big flower-pot over each plant, or by setting boards, say 10 inches wide, on edge along each side of the row, in inverted V shape, and in somewhat the same fashion as for blanching celery, except that no opening is left on top. The light should be excluded from the hearts as much as possible. In any of these ways endive may be well blanched in about three weeks, and will come out with inner leaves showing a delicate whitish or creamy color, and being crisp, tender and of pleasant flavor.
Fig. 1395. Green curled endive tied up for blanching.
If to be kept for winter use, sow the seed of Green Curled endive in August, or set the plants early in September; then take up the full-grown but as yet unblanched plants with a ball of earth adhering to the roots, and store them in a root-cellar as is done with celery. If kept in the dark, they will soon bleach and be ready for use.
Green Curled has long been the favorite variety in our markets and gardens. Its narrow curled leaves make the well-blanched plant far more attractive to the eye than the wider and plain leaves of Broad-Leaf. The latter, however, is gaining on the other in both growers' and consumers' favor. This is the only practical difference between the two varieties. The catalogues of European seedsmen list and describe several additional varieties, such as the Moss Curled and Rouen, none of which is often met with in American gardens. A few fungi and the spinach insects sometimes attack the plant. t. Greiner.