How do you force chicory for winter use?
Posted by Dobies Staff on 15 September 2014 02:55 pm

Chicory requires a sunny position where the soil is well drained. Dig the area in the autumn and incorporate well-rotted garden compost if the soil is short of organic matter. Prepare the bed a few days in advance of planting and apply a fertiliser such as our Vegetable Fertiliser. The seed should be sown during June and July as earlier sowings will often run to seed. Sow the seed in a propagator in under glass. Plant out when they are large enough to handle spacing the plants 23cm (9″) apart in rows 30cm (12″) apart.

In November just as the leaves are dying down lift the roots. The best roots for forcing have a crown about 5cm (2″) in diameter. Roots less than 2.5cm (1″) in diameter should be discarded along with any that are forked. Cut the leaves to approximately 2.5cm (1″) above the crown and trim the base of the roots so that they are approximately 15-20cm (6-8") in length. Store the roots horizontally in sand, in a cool, frost free shed or garage.

Force a few roots at a time between November and March by potting up about 5 in a 23cm (9") pot. The compost used should be just moist and should not be allowed to dry out completely. Grow on the roots at a temperature of 13-16°C (55-60°F) in a dark place as light will result in very bitter chicons. The chicons are ready to harvest in about 3-4 weeks when they are approximately 15cm (6") in height. Carefully brake or cut them off as required just above the crown, a second crop of smaller chicons may be produced. Once harvested the chicons should be kept in a black bag in the refrigerator and used as soon as possible.

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