This plant, which is probably native to East India, is produced more extensively for European than for American markets. It is not generally grown in the home gardens of the United States. In the cities it is consumed mainly by the foreign population, although the general demand is increasing. It is an annual, and, being hardy to frost, it is grown mainly as a late fall or early winter crop and used principally for salad purposes. The cut, curled and frilled leaves are very ornamental when fully blanched and are frequently used for garnishing, and for flavoring soups; the young, tender leaves are also excellent when cooked as greens.
There are two general classes; namely, the curled or fringe-leaved and the broad-leaved varieties. The former is highly ornamental and much more largely grown than the other. Giant Fringed, Green Curled Winter and White Curled are the most popular sorts of the first class. Broad-leaved Batavian is the best representative of the second class, which is used mainly in stews and soups.
Any rich, moist soil adapted to lettuce will grow a good crop of endive. Rapid growth is important to procure tender, succulent leaves. The plant foods should be quickly available, and nitrate of soda should be used as a top-dressing whenever the plants indicate the need of nitrogen.
Although grown mainly for fall and early winter markets, an early summer crop may be produced by starting the plants under glass or by sowing in the open as soon as the ground can be prepared. For the fall crop the seed should be sown in July or August, depending upon climatic conditions. The plants require 40 to 50 days to reach marketable size. They make the most satisfactory growth during the cool fall weather. The seedlings may be started in specially prepared beds, and transplanted when of the proper size, or the seed may be sown where the plants are to mature. Whichever method is used 1 foot apart each way provides sufficient space for the full development of the plants. Some growers prefer to thin to only 6 or 8 inches.
Unless the leaves are wanted for soups, stews or greens they should be thoroughly blanched. This whitening process is necessary to reduce the bitterness and to render them more tender; it also improves the appearance of the leaves when wanted for garnishing.
Blanching requires 10 to 20 days or longer in cool weather. Any means which will exclude the light from the central leaves and keep the hearts dry to prevent rotting will be effective; the leaves should always be dry when blanching is started. The plants should not be blanched faster than used, because of the danger of the white tender leaves decaying when fully blanched.
The most common method employed is to tie the tops together with raffia or coarse twine. Covering with boards, tile, flower pots (with the drainage holes closed) or other devices will serve the purpose. Soil is also used sometimes, banking as for celery. Leaves or straw may be thrown over the plants late in the fall when it is desired to leave them in the field until the weather is more severe. Many growers lift the plants with some earth clinging to the roots and reset close together in cool cellars, pits or cold frames, shading them when blanching is desired. Endive may be preserved in this manner until midwinter.
This perennial, which is native to southern Europe, is a member of the onion family, but is much stronger than the onion in flavor. It is used mainly for flavoring, especially by the foreign population. The sales, however, are very limited in American cities.
The bulbs are compound, inclosing with a thin, white, membranous covering about 10 bulb-lets, called cloves. Propagation is effected by planting the cloves early in spring or in the fall in mild climates. The soil should be fertile and well drained. Sandy loams are preferred. The cloves are covered with 1 or 2 inches of soil, 4 to 6 inches apart with about 1 foot between rows. The plants die down in the early fall, when the bulbs may be harvested, cured and stored under the same conditions that are favorable for onions.
This garden perennial of the mustard family had its origin in some eastern European country. Later it became naturalized in Great Britain, growing wild along streams, in meadows and in moist, uncultivated soils. In this country it is often seen about the farm premises, generally furnishing roots sufficient to meet the demands of the home, and is largely grown for commercial purposes. It has become one of our most important condiments. The cities use large supplies of the roots during the cooler parts of the year. In most of the trucking regions large fields of it may be seen. Many market gardeners find it a profitable crop.
The roots are fleshy, whitish externally and pure white within. When properly grown they are long, conical at the top, nearly cylindrical for several inches, and branching below. The flesh is acrid and biting to the taste. When ground or grated it emits a strong, pungent odor. The grated product is treated with vinegar and used mainly as a relish with oysters and meats. The flesh soon loses its stinging properties upon exposure to the air, so that sealing in jars is necessary for its preservation. Horse-radish vinegar is sometimes prepared from the roots.
Very light soils or heavy clays should not be used for this crop, but deep, fertile, sandy loams provide ideal conditions. A liberal and constant supply of soil moisture is essential to the best results, although good drainage is important. There must be no deficiency in humus if large roots are desired.