While you may have never tasted chicory, chances are you have passed by it in the produce section of your grocery store.

I know I am guilty of passing it right on by, mainly because I have no idea what to do with it!

Chicory is also known as endive and is not a hugely popular veggie because of its bitter flavour.

However, if you are a market gardener, you should know that according to the man JM Fortier (the market gardener), tastes are changing, and more of his customers are asking for traditional European greens such as chicory.

So, how does JM sell his chicory?

If the title didn’t give it away, it’s in his mesclun mix

Let’s take a look at how he does it.

Why Grow Chicory?

Chicory adds texture and volume to the mesclun mix.

Out of all the ingredients JM uses for his mesclun, chicory is the easiest and most reliable green of the mix.

It is cold-hardy, yet grows well in hot weather, has no predators, and allows for many cuts from the same plant.


There are a couple of varieties of chicory that JM uses:

  • Tres fine (curly)
  • Rhodos

How To Grow Chicory

JM and team grow it from transplant and lay out the garden at spacings that allow them to grow full-sized heads.

They plant 4 rows 6” apart, spaced every 6”.

The part they want is the heart of the plant, which is composed of fringed whitened leafy shoots that are extra tender.

How To Harvest

JM and team cut the whole head off, to ensure good regrowth, but slice the chicory in half leaving out the outer leaves and the tops.

After Harvest

Once cut, the plants grow back new leaves, always leaving the inside ones young and tender.

The bigger the plant gets, the more blanched and elongated the leafy shoots will get.

To further enhance this effect, you can pull the outer leaves together with a rubber band, leaving them to blanche for a week or two.

By doing this, you can get just as many cuts as you want from the same bed, which is a good tradeoff for the extra effort put into tying up the plants.

Processing Chicory

Chicory is processed just like any other lettuce in the mesclun mix.

It is put in a cold water bath where it is gently mixed.

Any damaged leaves, insects, and weeds are removed at this stage.

The greens are then spun dry in a washing machine.

This is a vital step if you want your salad to have a long shelf life.

The mesclun mix will stay fresh in half-pound bags for over a week using this method.

Bottom Line

If you are growing different kinds of greens for mesclun mix, chicory would make an excellent and unique addition.

The fact that it has no pests and diseases associated with it is fantastic, as well as its cold-hardiness. It will even grow in the heat for crying out loud!

If we start growing mesclun next year, we will definitely be including chicory in the mix.

We will keep you posted in future articles!

Do you grow chicory? If so, do you use it for mesclun or sell it as a head? Please let us know in the comments below.

Stay Local,

Kathy & Jon

your friendly neighbourhood growers



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