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How to grow Chicory

Chicory is a multi-use plant which is not commonly grown by the amateur gardener. However, it is reasonably easy to grow and provides a crop of leaves from early summer to mid-autumn. If the roots are lifted and stored in the dark then chicons are produced which will provide a delicacy in the winter months.
The final use is as a coffee substitute. The roots are baked then ground and are used as a 40:60 mixture with coffee. In parts of the world, chicory is used exclusively to produce an intriguing hot beverage.


Chicory Folklore 
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Latin Name
Cichorium intybus

Perennial cultivated as an annual

Site and Soil
A light soil which retains water. Full sun but they tolerate part shade well.

Plant to Harvest Time
8 weeks for leaves;
32 weeks for chicons;

How Many?
120 grams / 4 oz per plant

Types of Chicory

INSERT PICTURE Chicory can be grown for its leaves which are used in salads. Some varieties, Witloof chicory in particular, are grown principally for their chicons. These are small tightly packed and blanched leaves which are normally forced indoors during winter.
The final use for chicory is to grind up the roots and use the resulting powder as a coffee substitute. In some parts of the world, ground chicory roots are used on their own as a rather bitter beverage.

This article describes how to grow chicory and also includes radicchio which is similar and treated the same.

Site and Soil
Chicory prefers a light well dug soil which is reasonably fertile. It can be grown in full sun or partial shade. It's a good crop for growing between rows of peas and sweet corn. At the beginning of the season the chicory will get full sun. As the season progresses the growing peas / sweet corn will shade the chicory from the full sun.

Sowing and Planting Chicory


Time Sow Plant Harvest Chicons

Early Spring        

Mid Spring      

Late Spring   Sow indoors

Early Summer Sow indoors

Mid Summer   Plant out

Late Summer    

Early Autumn      

Mid Autumn     Force

Late Autumn       Force / Harvest

Early winter       Harvest

Mid Winter       Harvest

Late Winter       Harvest

If sowing seed directly into the soil outside the best time is late spring onwards. Sow seed outside in to a depth of about 1�cm (�in) deep and cover with fine soil. Water in well if the soil is dry. If sowing more than one row, space the rows 35cm (14in) apart. When the seedlings are about 2cm (�in) high, thin them to 25cm (10in) apart.

If sowing seed under cover, start sowing in mid spring. Sow a couple of seed per pot and thin out to the strongest. When the seedlings are 5cm (2in) high transplant them to their final position in the garden. Avoid disturbing the roots as much as possible. If the seeds are sown in degradable pots the pot can be planted directly into the soil. Space them as described in the previous paragraph. Water in well.

It's best to sow chicory seed for chicons in pots indoors as described above. Sow the seed in late spring. Plant out as described above.

Care for Chicory

Chicory is extremely good news on the care front. It requires no care whatsoever once the seedlings have established. In the early stages, water if conditions become dry. Thereafter the plants will look after themselves. Their long tap roots will search out water in all but the driest of conditions. Chicory, wait for this, will smother all but the most troublesome weeds. That's the best recommendation you can ever get for a vegetable!

Sometimes chicory does throw up a few flowers. As soon as you notice them cut the flowering stems back to soil level.

If you want to blanch the leaves (make them whiter rather than greener) then simply tie a piece of string round the leaves, drawing them together slightly. This will prevent light form reaching many of the inner leaves thus blanching them. This works best with radicchio and sugarloaf types of chicory. The best time to blanch is about ten days before you to harvest the leaves. Much longer and the plants will begin to suffer. As a further guide, begin blanching the plants about 12 weeks after the seeds are sown.


Name: Innocentia Mkhize
Date posted: August 09, 2011 - 12:52 pm
Message: Dear Sir/ Madam;
I would like to know how to plant/ farm Chicory?1) where do I find the raw material, 2) who are the suppliers?
Many thanks