Also called frisée, endive's beautiful lacy leaves will turn ordinary lettuce salad into an upscale, bistro mesclun. The mild flavor blends well with other greens and the crisp, finely cut leaves add interesting texture. Use in the flower garden for an exquisite ornamental.
• Botanical Name: Cichorium endivia
• Days to Maturity: 42–70 days
• Family: Asteraceae
• Native: Cultivated; origin unknown
• Hardiness: Frost-tolerant biennial grown as an annual
• Plant Dimensions: 6" tall and wide
• Variety Information: Rosette with broad, slightly crinkled green leaves with a flavor similar to slightly bitter lettuce.
• When to Sow Outside: 4 to 6 weeks before your average last frost date, as soon as soil can be worked, or 8 to 10 weeks before your average first frost date. Mild Climates: Sow in fall and winter for cool–season harvest. Ideal soil temperature for germination is 60°–70°F; soil temperature over 78°F halts germination.
• When to Start Inside: 8 to 10 weeks before your average last frost date; transplant outside 4 to 6 weeks after starting inside.
• Days to Emerge: 10–14 days
• Seed Depth: ⅛"
• Seed Spacing: A group of 3 seeds every 6"
• Row Spacing: 18"
• Thinning: When 1" tall, thin to 1 every 6"
• Harvesting: Harvest in the morning and before temperatures get above 90°F. You might want to discard the outer leaves, as they tend to be more bitter than inner leaves. Dunk plants in cold or ice water to cool, then drain before storing. The leaves can actually be harvested any time in a ôcut-and-come-againö fashion; this is particularly good when seeds are sown too late in the spring, and warm weather is approaching quickly, threatening to cause plants to bolt. In fall, harvest after first couple of light frosts; flavor is actually improved with light frost. When plants are 6" across, entire head can be cut at the base.