Chicory is a leafy green vegetable that is related to endive and lettuce. It has a slightly bitter taste and is often used in salads or cooked as a vegetable. The leaves of chicory are elongated and can vary in color from green to red, depending on the variety. Chicory is high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, such as vitamin C, vitamin K, and potassium, making it a healthy choice for any diet. In addition to being a nutritious food, chicory is also used as a coffee substitute and is believed to have some medicinal properties.
How to Grow Chicory Organically
- Choose a site: Chicory can be grown in full sun or partial shade. It prefers well-draining soil with a pH between 6.0 and 6.8.
- Planting: Sow chicory seeds directly into the garden in early spring or late summer. Plant the seeds about 1/4 inch deep and 2 inches apart in rows that are 18-24 inches apart. Thin the seedlings to 8-12 inches apart.
- Watering: Water the chicory plants regularly to keep the soil evenly moist, but not waterlogged.
- Fertilizing: Fertilize the plants once a month with a balanced organic fertilizer.
- Pests and diseases: Chicory is relatively resistant to pests and diseases. However, you should keep an eye out for aphids, slugs, and snails.
- Harvesting: Harvest chicory leaves when they are young and tender, before they become too bitter. The outer leaves can be harvested as needed, or you can cut the whole plant at once.
- Storage: Store chicory leaves in the refrigerator for up to a week.