Fruit and Vegetables

Endive, Endivia - Cichorium endivia


The endive is a variety of chicory characterized by the particular bitter taste. It is a very popular vegetable on our tables, particularly during the winter period. It can be consumed in salads, then raw, but also cooked in different ways and with many combinations.
Used in ancient times as a medicinal plant for its bitter taste, today thanks to the system of leaf whitening which eliminates the latter drawback, endive is used as a salad. Cultivated endives are divided into two groups: curly leaves and whole leaves. The crispa variety has deeply indented leaves; the broad-leaved variety, also called scarola, has broad leaves that fold back towards the central bud.
The botanical name is Cichorium endivia.

Climate and Terrain

Cichorium endivia plants prefer a temperate climate, although they demonstrate a good resistance to cold. Fears drought.
This vegetable is quite resistant to cold and is therefore suitable to be cultivated during the winter months, mainly, however, in areas sheltered in the North and in full field in the Center-South. The minimum temperatures that they can successfully withstand are in fact around -3 ° C. Below you enter a risky area, especially if the environment is rather humid. Surely you will never have to go below -7 ° C. In those conditions, in fact, the endives will begin to suffer irreversible damage, especially against the collar. The "boiling" of the leaves, then, in the case of sudden frosts, is always lurking.
It should also be noted that the escarole is generally more resistant and can therefore be grown even in winter. Curly varieties, on the other hand, tend to be more autumnal crops because they are more sensitive.
As for the soil, the best soils for Cichorium endivia are those that are very fertile, loose and rich in organic substance, otherwise the plants go immediately to seed before they are ready for harvest.
In this respect, however, these are less demanding plants. They adapt to almost all soils. It is sufficient that they manage to keep the roots always slightly fresh and are fairly rich in organic substance. However, good drainage must also be guaranteed, given that one of the few causes of failure is rot at the level of the roots or collar. In this respect it should be noted that the rich varieties are more resistant and are therefore to be preferred if our plot is particularly clayey.



Annual / biennial
Height From 30 to 60 cm
Width From 20 to 40 cm
Water needs Medium-high
Maintenance moderateGrowth normalMultiplication seedRusticitа Good up to -3 ° CExposure Full sunGround Not demanding, slightly damp, but well-drainedComposting Very seasoned organic soil conditioner


At least three years must pass before repeating the cultivation on the same land. They can precede potatoes, winter onions and tomatoes.

Endive characteristics

The endives can be roughly divided into two subspecies very botanically close: the curly chicory (var. Crispum) and the scarole (var. Latifolium). In fact, they belong to the same family, genus and species (le compositae gen. Chicorium, sp. Endivia). They also differ slightly for the most suitable period for cultivation and, clearly, for the shape of the leaves.
The former have large overlapping leaves forming a rosette. The border is almost always wavy. On the other hand, the endive has leaves that are 40 to 60 cm long, slightly lobed, tightened one on the other, green (which becomes almost white following the treatments undergone in the field).


advantageous is the association with leeks and chicory, negative is that with fennel, cabbage and climbing beans.


A few months before sowing, they are buried at a depth of 30 - 35 cm two - three quintals of mature manure for a hundred square meters. We must not fertilize with fresh organic fertilizer.
The endives do not bear the presence of organic soil improvers that are not well mineralized. This could cause the roots to burn, completely compromising the harvest. It is important to make only well-seasoned manure in which droppings and straw have become completely indistinguishable. In the event of uncertainty, we buy rather bagged products, both powder and pellets.
Generally, every 100 square meters of cultivation requires 2 quintals of soil improver to be perfectly incorporated into the soil during the previous processing.

Sowing and planting

As with all vegetables, we can choose whether to buy the plants directly or personally take care of the sowing. If we mainly cultivate to satisfy family needs, the use of sowing is probably the optimal approach. By carrying out scalar sowing (and perhaps changing variety) we will be able to have specimens continuously ready for harvesting without waste of work and product.
For autumn harvesting in the Center-South it is necessary to start sowing in July (in the seedbed) or from mid-July to the end of August in the open field. In northern regions it is sown in seedbeds or in cold greenhouses around January-February.
Spring harvesting can be carried out without complex equipment only in the Center-South and sowing takes place between August and September.
In the open field rows with a distance of 30 to 50 cm should be prepared by inserting a seed every 5-10 cm, at a depth of 1-2 cm. If you want you can also proceed to postarelle by inserting three seeds every 25 cm.
Once germination has taken place, the seedlings must be thinned leaving only the most vigorous ones, with a minimum distance of 20-30 from each other, on the line. In general, approximately 4 kg of seed per hectare will be required.
In the nursery, 20 g are generally sufficient to cover 100 square meters. For a family production one sachet, if well preserved, is sufficient for at least two years.
It is sown in seedbeds and transplanted to the ground when the plants have four or five leaves. The first sowing is done in January on a warm bed, then it is sown every twenty days for a continuous harvest.
In the summer months it is sown directly on the spot.

The endive calendar

Sowing in a protected seedbed

From January to mid-March
Sow in seedbed outdoors March-April / July-September
Sowing in the open field in the North March to August
Sowing in full field in the Center-South September-November
Collection 3-4 months after sowing (depending on the period and geographical location)


The irrigations must be frequent when the plants have formed the bread of leaves it is good to thin out the doses of water in order not to risk the rot.
We take care in the hottest months not to wet the leaves in the most intense sun hours: the lens effect could burn the leaves.

Cultivation techniques

Endives do not require great effort. We only need to engage in regular weeding of the soil to keep it always soft and permeable to water while eliminating any pests.
Bleaching is carried out by collecting the leaves of each head and tying them with raffia. When the plant has reached an appreciable development, two ligatures may be necessary: ​​one at the top and one at the bottom. Before ligatures it is necessary to check that the leaves are well dry.


Bleaching is an agricultural technique that is used for a large number of vegetables (from fennel to cardoons, celery, to asparagus, and some salads, especially endives).
It has not only an aesthetic purpose, but also gives particular organoleptic characteristics to the product. This will turn out to be more crunchy and tasty, partially or totally losing its bitter taste.
In a family vegetable garden, the advice is to proceed by bleaching a maximum of three or four copies at a time, since once the process is complete the shelf life becomes very short.
There are many techniques for achieving this effect.
You can proceed by tightly binding the tufts and covering them with pots (ideal for Belgian endive, to be completely bleached). We also cover the drainage well because the light must not pass through at all.
For curls instead, it is simply used a tight ligature that makes only the heart candid.
To achieve the same purposes, other materials can also be used, such as black plastic, cardboard or newspaper. You can also bury the products if you wish.
The process takes about 2-3 weeks.
It is extremely important to proceed only when the plants are well dry even in the center. The ligation could in fact favor the onset of rot.


It is scaled as the tufts have reached a size suitable for the variety they belong to. It is done in autumn winter and early spring.
The endives are harvested by cutting the tufts at ground level. The maximum production occurs between October and August, but given the climate variability of our country the product can always be available on our tables.
It is good to consume this vegetable as soon as possible, because it has a very limited shelf life.


Downy mildew is to be feared, which manifests itself with dark spots on the upper page and with fluff on the lower one, after which the plants wither and die.
The escarole can be attacked by rust which is a cryptogamic disease due to a fungus, Puccinia, which causes rust-colored pustules and deforms the leaves.
The rot of the leaves and of the collar can be prevented with cupric products.
Animal parasites are snails and aphids.


The varieties of endive are many. Among the endive we point out the Gigante degli Ortolani, the Full Heart, the Dilusia, the Bionda a full heart and the Cornetto of Bordeaux. Among the curls are the Pancalieri, the Romanesca, the Gloire de l'exposition, the Riccia in winter and the Riccia heart of gold.

Nutritional notes

This vegetable is ideal for people who follow a low-calorie regime. One ounce of endive provides a maximum of 16 kcal. However, it has diuretic, purifying and anti-inflammatory virtues. It is also extremely rich in inulin, a particular type of fiber very useful for those with problems of constipation. According to recent studies it is able to promote the absorption of mineral salts, reduce cholesterol, improve bowel health and help prevent the occurrence of certain types of cancer. The intake of vitamins and minerals is also considerable: vitamin A, K, B5, B9, C, iron, copper and manganese.


They are endemic plants of our country, but they also grow spontaneously throughout the Mediterranean basin. They have been known since ancient times, although they have spread throughout Europe only since the late nineteenth century. At that time, forcing and bleaching became very popular. These techniques were presented at the Universal Horticulture Exhibition held in Ghent in those years. For this reason, even today some varieties particularly suitable for those treatments are called "Belgian endive".

Approaches and partnerships

The endives and endive grow well in the company of other winter vegetables, such as other chicory and leeks. Instead, the proximity of cabbage, fennel and climbing beans should be avoided.

Endive, Endivia - Cichorium endivia: Pests and diseases

Particular attention must be paid to snails, slugs, aphids, garden fly, beetles, noctuids and mole crickets.
Among the most dangerous cryptogamic diseases are downy mildew, white mal, anthracnose, rust, cercospora and gray mold, all preventable with good crop rotation and control of irrigation and substrate.
Attention also to the mosaic virus. If it occurs, remove the subjects immediately to avoid spreading to the rest of the crops.