Endive-Escarole Sowing Instructions
Days to Germination:5-12 days
Endive\Escarole is easily grown in cool weather. Sow directly in the garden as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring. Endive\Escarole may also be started as transplants 5 to 8 weeks before setting out. Sow thinly using sterilized seed starter mix, cover lightly and water. Provide light, moderate warmth and good ventilation. A second crop may be sown in late summer to early fall. Grow Endive\Escarole quickly with plenty of moisture for the most pleasing taste. Most will bolt (go to seed) and taste a bit unpleasant in hot weather. Amend the soil with moderate amounts of compost and a sprinkling of organic fertilizer. To blanch the tender centers (pale hearts) of Endive\Escarole, place a clay flower pot over the plant 2 weeks prior to harvesting. Harvest by cutting the entire head at soil level.
In European winter markets, huge heads of Escarole and Endive (Tres Fine) are displayed with centers as blond and wild as Harpo's wig. The growers blanch the hearts by outfitting them with little hats (like upside-down Tupperware bowls) just a week prior to harvest. It is quite a comical sight to see these hatted fields. Since both of the varieties listed here are mild, self-blanching types, you can grow them bareheaded, but it is still fun to try this technique. You'll have creamy heads that are especially mild, crispy and tasty.
Go Blonde This Summer
I love the way Escarole tastes in cool weather, with just enough bitterness to be interesting, but not enough to turn you off. Grown in summer, its bitterness is more pronounced, but if you blanch it you might get away with a warm-season crop as well. In France, in wintertime, the hearts of the plants are covered with white plastic hats, secured to the ground with wires, for the last week or so of growth. The result is heads with gorgeous, tender, sweet, pale centers. Last year I tried this in summer using inverted plastic plant saucers, held in the place with Potato-sized rocks. It worked like a charm!
Deer Resistant Seed Varieties