Wild chicory is a perennial herb that often grows along roadways or fields, recognizable by the bright blue flowers that appear in late summer. Domestically, most chicory is grown for its leafy greens or carrotlike roots, which are dried and roasted for use as a coffee substitute or boiled and eaten much like turnips or parsnips. Plant chicory in late spring; then dig the roots before the ground freezes in late fall. Does this Spark an idea?
- Manure or compost
- All-purpose granular fertilizer (optional)
- Chicory seeds
- Garden hose
- Organic mulch
- 21-0-0 fertilizer
Prepare a planting spot in full sunlight and well-drained soil. Spade the soil, then rake 2 to 4 inches of manure or compost into the top 6 inches of the soil. Alternatively, rake in 4 to 6 cups of all-purpose granular fertilizer for every 100 square feet of planting space.
Create shallow rows 18 to 24 inches apart with the tip of a hoe. Plant 12 to 15 chicory seeds for each foot of row. Plant the seeds 1/2 inch deep. Chicory seeds can be purchased at garden centers or herbal suppliers.
Water the area immediately after planting. Use a fine spray to avoid washing the seeds from the soil. After the initial watering, give the chicory plants 1 to 2 inches of water per week.
Spread 1 to 3 inches of organic mulch around the chicory plants. Mulch will keep the roots damp and cool, and will help to deter weeds. Hoe or pull weeds as they appear.
Thin the chicory plants when the seedlings have three or four true leaves. True leaves are the leaves that appear after the tiny seedling leaves. Allow 8 to 10 inches between each plant. Thinned seedlings with four to six true leaves can be transplanted to another area, if desired.
Fertilize the chicory plants about four weeks after thinning or transplanting the seedlings. Use a nitrogen-rich fertilizer with a ratio such as 21-0-0. Scatter the fertilizer along the side of the plants, then water the fertilizer into the soil.
- Photo Credit chicory image by Irina Kodentseva from Fotolia.com
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