Chicory exists in three different forms:

  • Forcing types: these are well-known for their plump leafy heads.  
  • Red chicory: these are also known as the radicchio. They turn red in the daylight.  
  • Non-forcing: these are also famous as sugarloaf types. They have large heart-shaped heads. You can harvest them in autumn. 

The bitter flavour of the chicory makes it an essential item for spring and autumn salads. If you want to reduce their bitterness, consider adding tomatoes. 

Sowing Chicory

  • Sowing time for chicory varies according to the variety you’re sowing. For instance,
  • Sow the forcing cultivars in Mayor and June
  • Sow the non-forcing cultivars in June and July
  • Sow the non-forcing cultivars anytime you want, from late winter to early autumn for mini leaves. However, you must sow them in the glasshouse.
  • Ensure that seeds are sown thinly
  • Ensure that seeds are sown in a depth of 0.5 inches
  • Sow the seeds at a distance of 12 inches from each other
  • Sow the seeds 2 inches apart if you want to have mini leaves.  


Chicory prefer the growing place which is

  • Open
  • Sunny

However, if you’re planting summer crops and mint leaves, you have to ensure that the growing location

  • Have Drained-free soil
  • Is fertile

Here’re some tips that help in better growth of chicory:

  • Thin the seedlings of the forcing types to ensure a distance of 6 inches between them
  • Thin out the seedlings of non0forcing cultivars until they are 12 inches apart
  • Thin out the seedlings of mint leaves until they’re 5 cm apart.
  • Water the chicory plants regularly in dry weather conditions.
  • Feed the plants grown in containers with liquid feed in summer every fortnight
  • Lift and discard the roots which are shorter than 1 inch in November
  • Trim the leaves such that they are only one inch above the crown
  • Place the roots horizontally in the cool sand and start planting only a few of them. While planting these roots, make sure you’re growing them in 10 inches pot filled with compost. Moreover, keep the crown exposed.
  • Use a black polythene bag to cover the plants.
  • Cover the drainage holes of the pots
  • Maintain the temperature at 50-59°F to encourage the development of “chicos.”
  • Blach the radicchio within 12 weeks of sowing


The harvesting time of chicory also varies according to the variety.

Non-forcing chicory

You can harvest them from late summer to mid-autumn. They contain lettuce like heads that needs harvesting. Once you have gathered the heads, leave the stump as it is. In this way, you can get another crop. However, it would have smaller heads.

You can also harvest its young leaves within 1-2 months of sowing. Use these leaves as salads leaves.  

Forcing chicory

Forcing chicory doesn’t need light for growing in winter. Instead, they develop into small tight leafy heads. They taste sweet and crispy, which is just yummy.

You can harvest them once they are 6 inches in height. Typically, four weeks after blanching is the time to reap them.


Common problems


Leaves rotting mostly occur

  • When you grow the plants in damp conditions
  • When you grow them undercover


  • Remove and discard the damaged leaves
  • Improve the ventilation to the plants grown undercover

Slugs and snails

These eat young seedlings, leaving a slime trail in the soil around your crop and on leaves.


You can use biocontrols, copper tape, sawdust and beer traps to control the slugs and snails.

Check out 7 ways to use chicory from Food and Wine Magazine

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09/03/2021 | Vegetables | 0 Comments

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