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The Ultimate Guide to Growing Chicory: Step-by-Step Instructions for Home Gardeners in the UK

Learn how to grow delicious and nutritious chicory in your own backyard with our ultimate step-by-step guide. Discover the best varieties, planting techniques, and care tips for a bountiful harvest of this versatile leafy green.
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Table of Contents

Introduction:

Welcome to the ultimate guide on how to grow edible chicory at home in the UK! Whether you’re an experienced gardener or just starting out, growing chicory is a rewarding and delicious endeavor. In this guide, we will provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to successfully cultivate chicory in your own backyard.

Why should I grow Chicory?

Chicory is not only a versatile and tasty addition to your culinary repertoire, but it also offers numerous health benefits. Packed with vitamins and minerals, chicory is known for its digestive properties and ability to support liver health. By growing your own chicory, you can ensure a fresh and pesticide-free supply of this nutritious leafy green.

Where is the ideal location to grow Chicory?

Chicory thrives in full sun, so choose a location in your garden that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. It is also important to provide some protection from strong winds, as they can damage the delicate leaves.

Soil type and preparing the soil:

Chicory prefers well-draining soil with a pH level between 6.0 and 7.5. Before planting, prepare the soil by removing any weeds and incorporating organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure. This will improve soil fertility and drainage, ensuring optimal growing conditions for your chicory plants.

Watering tips and hints:

Chicory plants require regular watering, especially during dry spells. However, be careful not to overwater, as this can lead to root rot. Aim to keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Mulching around the plants can help retain moisture and suppress weed growth.

Sowing and planting Chicory:

You can grow chicory from seed or purchase young plants from a reputable nursery. If sowing from seed, start indoors 4-6 weeks before the last frost date. Sow the seeds in trays or pots filled with seed compost, covering them lightly with soil. Keep the soil moist and provide sufficient light until the seedlings are ready for transplanting.

How to grow Chicory from seed:

When the seedlings have developed their first set of true leaves, they are ready to be transplanted into individual pots or directly into the garden. Space the plants 12-18 inches apart to allow for proper growth. Keep the soil consistently moist and provide adequate sunlight to encourage healthy development.

How to plant out Chicory:

If you have purchased young chicory plants, acclimatize them to outdoor conditions gradually. Choose a cloudy day or evening to transplant them into well-prepared soil. Dig a hole large enough to accommodate the root ball, gently place the plant in the hole, and firm the soil around it. Water thoroughly after planting to settle the soil.

General care for Chicory:

Chicory requires minimal maintenance once established. Keep the area around the plants weed-free to prevent competition for nutrients and water. Regularly monitor for pests and diseases, and take appropriate measures to control them. Water the plants during dry spells and provide a light application of balanced fertilizer every 4-6 weeks.

How to harvest Chicory:

Chicory leaves can be harvested when they reach a suitable size, generally around 8-10 weeks after planting. Cut the outer leaves with a sharp knife, leaving the center intact to allow for regrowth. Harvesting in this manner will extend the harvest period, giving you a continuous supply of fresh chicory throughout the growing season.

How to store Chicory:

Chicory is best enjoyed fresh, but if you have an abundance, you can store it in the refrigerator for up to a week. Wrap the leaves in damp paper towels and place them in a plastic bag to maintain freshness.

Problems with growing chicory including common pests and diseases:

Chicory is generally a hardy plant, but it can be susceptible to certain pests and diseases. Common issues include aphids, slugs, and fungal diseases such as powdery mildew. Regularly inspect your plants for signs of infestation or disease, and take appropriate measures to control them.

Where to buy Chicory:

You can purchase chicory seeds or young plants from reputable nurseries, garden centers, or online seed suppliers. Look for varieties suitable for your region and ensure they are labeled as edible chicory.

What are the best Chicory varieties to grow and why?

There are several chicory varieties to choose from, each with its own unique flavor and characteristics. Popular varieties include Radicchio, Belgian endive, and Escarole. Consider your culinary preferences and growing conditions when selecting the best chicory varieties for your garden.

What tools will I need to grow chicory?

To grow chicory successfully, you will need basic gardening tools such as a spade, rake, hand trowel, watering can or hose, and a sharp knife for harvesting. Additionally, having a pH testing kit and organic fertilizers on hand can help you maintain optimal growing conditions.

Conclusion:

Growing your own chicory is a rewarding experience that allows you to enjoy the freshness and health benefits of this versatile leafy green. By following the step-by-step instructions in this guide, you’ll be well on your way to cultivating a bountiful harvest of delicious chicory in your very own backyard.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: Can I grow chicory in pots?

A: Yes, chicory can be grown in pots as long as they are large enough to accommodate the plants and provide adequate drainage.

Q: How long does it take for chicory to mature?

A: Chicory typically takes 8-10 weeks to reach maturity, depending on the variety and growing conditions.

Q: Can I grow chicory indoors?

A: While it is possible to grow chicory indoors, it requires a bright, sunny location and sufficient space for the plants to grow.

Keywords: growing chicory, growing chicory in pots, growing chicory from seed, growing chicory root, chicory varieties, chicory care, harvesting chicory, storing chicory, common pests and diseases of chicory, where to buy chicory, tools for growing chicory

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