A biennial member of the chicory family, endive quickly puts down a
deep taproot and is naturally able to grow through prolonged
drought. Because endive remains bitter until cold weather, it
doesn't matter if it grows slowly through summer, just so long as
leaf production resumes in autumn.
_Sowing date:_ On irrigated raised beds endive is sown around August
1 and heads by mid-October. The problem with dry-gardened endive is
that if it is spring sown during days of increasing daylength when
germination of shallow-sown small seed is a snap, it will bolt
prematurely. The crucial moment seems to be about June 1. April/May
sowings bolt in July/August,: after June 1, bolting won't happen
until the next spring, but germination won't happen without
watering. One solution is soaking the seeds overnight, rinsing them
frequently until they begin to sprout, and fluid drilling them.
_Spacing:_ The heads become huge when started in June. Sow in rows 4
feet apart and thin gradually until the rosettes are 3 inches in
diameter, then thin to 18 inches apart.
_Irrigation:_ Without a drop of moisture the plants, even as tiny
seedlings, will grow steadily but slowly all summer, as long as no
other crop is invading their root zone. The only time I had trouble
was when the endive row was too close to an aggressive row of yellow
crookneck squash. About August, the squash roots began invading the
endive's territory and the endive got wilty.
A light side-dressing of complete organic fertilizer or compost in
late September will grow the hugest plants imaginable.
_Varieties:_ Curly types seem more tolerant to rain and frost during
winter than broad-leaf Batavian varieties. I prefer President (TSC).
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