Summer and autumn-sown crops of endive need a sunny spot with good soil, but a semi-shaded site is equally suitable for spring-grown endive. Dig in autumn, adding manure or compost if the soil is short of humus. About a week before planting, apply a general purpose fertiliser.
April – August.
Thin your seedlings as soon as the first true leaves appear. Continue thinning at intervals until the plants are 9” apart for curly leaved varieties and 12”apart for broad leaved types. Hoe regularly and feed occasionally with a liquid fertiliser. Endives need to be watered thoroughly in dry weather – the plants will run to seed if this doesn’t happen.
Begin blanching about 12 weeks after sowing. Choose a few plants as required, making sure the leaves are dry. Tie up the leaves loosely with raffia and cover them with a plastic bucket. The heads will be ready in 3 weeks (summer) or 5 weeks (winter). For partial blanching, you can place a plate or sheed of cardboard over the centre of the mature plant. The centre should have turned white and be ready for harvesting after about 10 days. Cut the head with a sharp knife when the leaves have turned creamy white.
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When you’re blanching endives, only choose a few plants at a time – they deteriorate rapidly after blanching.