The Bitter Truth about Growing Chicory

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Are you looking to add some flavor and nutrition to your garden? Look no further than chicory! This hardy plant is not only easy to grow, but its leaves can be used in salads, its roots can be roasted as a coffee substitute, and its flowers attract pollinators to your garden. In this complete guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to successfully grow and enjoy chicory in your own backyard.

Benefits of Growing Your Own Chicory

Benefits of growing chicory at home:

  • Rich source of nutrients including vitamins C and K, fiber, and potassium
  • Can improve digestion and reduce inflammation
  • May help manage blood sugar levels and support weight loss
  • Can be used in a variety of recipes, both raw and cooked
  • Easy to grow in a home garden or container
  • Can be harvested multiple times throughout the growing season

General Information About Chicory

Plant Family: Asteraceae (also known as the daisy or sunflower family)
Plant Latin Name: Cichorium intybus

Plant Variations Available

Chicory is a diverse plant that can be used for a variety of purposes. It is an herbaceous perennial that is native to Europe, but it now grows all over the world. The plant has a deep taproot, and its leaves are either green or purplish. The flowers of chicory are usually blue, but they can also be pink, white, or lavender.


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One of the things that chicory is most well-known for is its use as a coffee substitute. The roots of the plant are roasted and ground, just like coffee beans, and can be brewed into a beverage that is similar in taste to coffee. However, chicory coffee is caffeine-free and has a slightly sweeter flavor profile than actual coffee. It can also be used as a coffee additive, reducing bitterness and adding a hint of nuttiness.

Chicory leaves and stems can also be eaten as a salad green or cooked as a vegetable. The leaves are slightly bitter and have a unique flavor profile that can be an acquired taste for some. The plant is high in fiber, vitamin C, and potassium, making it a nutritious addition to any meal.

Another popular use of chicory is in traditional medicine. It is said to have anti-inflammatory and digestive properties, and has been used to treat a variety of ailments, including constipation, arthritis, and liver disease. However, more research is needed to fully understand the medicinal benefits of chicory.

Overall, chicory is a versatile plant that can be used for a variety of purposes, including as a coffee substitute, salad green, and traditional medicine. Its unique flavor and health benefits make it a worthwhile addition to any kitchen or garden.

Germinating Chicory

Preferred Zones

Chicory is a hardy plant that thrives in many different climates, making it a great choice for outdoor growing. However, there are certain zones that are particularly ideal for growing this versatile green.


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If you live in zone 4 or higher, you’re in luck! These areas provide the perfect temperature and growing conditions for chicory. This includes states like Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Maine. In these regions, chicory will grow vigorously, producing a bounty of crisp, bitter leaves that are perfect for salads, sandwiches, and sautés.

If you live in a warmer climate, don’t despair! Chicory can also be grown successfully in zones 7-9. These areas include parts of the southern United States, such as Georgia, Texas, and Alabama. In these regions, chicory will grow well in the fall and winter months when temperatures are cooler. This means you can enjoy fresh, flavorful chicory leaves throughout the entire year.

To ensure a successful outdoor chicory crop, be sure to plant your seeds in rich, well-draining soil. Chicory also requires plenty of sunlight, so choose a location that receives ample sun exposure throughout the day. Additionally, make sure to water your plants regularly to keep the soil moist, but not waterlogged.

By following these tips and choosing the right zone for your outdoor chicory crop, you’ll be rewarded with a delicious and nutrient-rich green that’s perfect for adding flavor and texture to all kinds of dishes. Happy growing!

Sowing Instructions

Chicory, a member of the daisy family, is a versatile plant that can be sown in both the spring and fall. Whether you’re planting chicory for its nutritious root or its aromatic leaves, proper sowing techniques will ensure optimal growth and yield. Here are the best methods and procedures for sowing chicory:

1. Site selection: Chicory prefers well-drained soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0. Choose a location that receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day.

2. Soil preparation: Before sowing, loosen the soil to a depth of 4 to 6 inches using a hoe or plow. Remove any rocks or debris, and add compost or organic fertilizer to improve soil fertility.

3. Seedbed preparation: Create a fine seedbed by raking the soil to create a smooth, even surface. Avoid compacting the soil, as chicory seeds need good soil-to-seed contact for optimal germination.

4. Sowing method: Chicory seeds can be broadcasted by hand or using a seed spreader. Spread the seeds evenly over the seedbed, aiming for a seeding rate of 5 to 8 pounds per acre.

5. Seed depth: Chicory seeds should be sown at a depth of ¼ inch to ½ inch. Cover the seeds lightly with soil, and firm down the soil with a roller or board to ensure good seed-to-soil contact.

6. Water and fertilization: Water the seeded area thoroughly after sowing, and keep the soil moist but not waterlogged until the plants establish. Fertilize with a balanced fertilizer, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

7. Maintenance: Monitor the seedbed regularly for weeds and pests, and remove any unwanted vegetation. Thin the seedlings to a spacing of 6 inches to 12 inches when they reach a height of 4 inches to 6 inches.

By following these simple steps, you’ll be on your way to growing delicious and healthy chicory in your own backyard. Happy sowing!

Preparation Advice

If you’re interested in growing chicory, you should know that it’s a relatively easy plant to cultivate, and can be grown in a variety of soil types. Here are some of the best methods and equipment you’ll need to prepare for a successful chicory harvest:


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1. Start with the right seeds – Chicory grows best from seeds that have been stored properly to maintain their viability.

2. Choose a location – Chicory prefers full sun, and soil that is well-drained, with a pH of 6.0 to 6.5.

3. Prepare the soil – Before planting, it’s important to make sure the soil is fertile and free of weeds. Add compost or organic soil amendments to improve soil texture and nutrients.

4. Plant at the right time – Chicory can be planted in early spring or late summer, depending on your location and climate.

5. Provide regular watering – Chicory needs consistent moisture but doesn’t like to be waterlogged. Be sure to water regularly, but avoid letting the soil become soggy.

6. Fertilize as needed – If your soil is lacking in nutrients, incorporate a fertilizer specially formulated for leafy greens.


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7. Harvest at the right time – Chicory leaves can be harvested at any stage of growth, but they are best when young and tender. Cut the leaves close to the base of the plant.

When it comes to equipment, the list is relatively short. You’ll need a good pair of gardening gloves to protect your hands, a small hand-held trowel for planting and weeding, and a watering can or hose. Keep in mind that while chicory might not require a lot of equipment or special techniques to grow, it does need consistent attention and care to produce a healthy, bountiful crop.

Germination Tools and Equipment

When it comes to germinating healthy chicory, having the right tools and equipment can make all the difference. Here are some essential items to help you get started:

1. Germination Tray – A germination tray is an important tool that will help you maintain a consistent environment for your chicory seeds. You can find them in various sizes, but make sure to choose one that fits your needs.

2. Seed Starting Mix – A high-quality seed starting mix is a must when germinating chicory. The mix is specially formulated to provide the right balance of nutrients, moisture, and aeration for seedlings to thrive.


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3. Chicory Seeds – Obviously, you’ll need some chicory seeds if you want to grow chicory. Make sure to purchase fresh, high-quality seeds from a reputable supplier.

4. Grow Light – If you’re starting chicory seeds indoors, you’re going to need a grow light to provide the necessary light spectrum and intensity for your seedlings to grow strong and healthy.

5. Watering Can – Chicory seeds require consistent moisture during the germination process, and a watering can is an easy and efficient way to provide it.

6. Temperature Gauge – Chicory seedlings thrive in a warm environment, so a temperature gauge is an essential tool for keeping tabs on the temperature in your growing area.

By having these tools and equipment at hand, you’ll be well on your way to growing healthy and vibrant chicory plants. Happy germinating!

Growing Chicory

Light Requirements

When it comes to growing chicory, proper lighting is essential to ensuring a healthy and abundant harvest. Chicory plants prefer a lot of bright, direct light, so it’s best to position them near a south-facing window or under grow lights.

If you’re growing chicory indoors, it’s important to mimic the natural cycle of light that the plant would experience outside. Chicory needs about 12 to 14 hours of light per day, so investing in a timer for your grow lights can help ensure that your plants are getting the right amount of light at the right times.

It’s also important to keep in mind that chicory plants can be sensitive to certain types of light. For example, they may not thrive under intense red or blue light. Make sure to choose grow lights that provide a balanced spectrum of light, or consider using a combination of different types of lights to ensure your plants are getting everything they need.


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Overall, with the right lighting conditions, chicory can be a relatively easy and rewarding crop to grow at home. Just remember to monitor your plants closely and adjust your lighting as needed to keep them healthy and thriving.

Temperature Requirements

Chicory is a hardy plant that grows well in a range of temperatures, but achieving the ideal growing temperature can help ensure healthy growth and optimal crop yield. As a cool-season crop, chicory prefers moderate temperatures of between 50-65°F (10-18°C) during the early to mid-growth stages, and slightly cooler temperatures of between 45-55°F (7-13°C) during the later stages of growth.

While chicory can tolerate temperatures as low as 32°F (0°C), prolonged exposure to freezing temperatures can damage the plant, particularly if the soil is also frozen. On the other hand, high temperatures above 75°F (24°C) can cause chicory plants to bolt, or produce tall, spindly stems and prematurely flower, which can adversely affect the taste and quality of the leaves. Prolonged exposure to high temperatures can also lead to increased susceptibility to pests and diseases.

To achieve the ideal temperature for growing chicory, it’s essential to plant the seeds at the right time of year, ensuring they have enough time to mature before temperatures get too hot or too cold. Using cold frames or row covers can also help regulate the temperature around the plants, while providing protection from frost and wind. Proper soil preparation, including adequate drainage and fertilization, can also help ensure robust growth and help the plants tolerate temperature fluctuations.

In sum, while chicory can adapt to a range of temperatures, optimal growth and quality of the leaves can be achieved by keeping temperatures within the moderate range of 50-65°F (10-18°C), avoiding prolonged exposure to extreme temperatures, and ensuring proper soil preparation and protection from the elements.

My Favorite Tools For Growing Chicory

If you’re looking to care for your chicory plants and ensure they’re healthy and thriving, you’ll need a few key tools and pieces of equipment. Here are some of the best items to have on hand:

1. Hand Pruners: Keeping your chicory plants trimmed and tidy is key to promoting healthy growth. A pair of hand pruners will allow you to easily trim any dead or damaged leaves, as well as shape the plant to your liking.

2. Garden Gloves: Chicory plants can be prickly and tough to handle without protection. A set of sturdy garden gloves will help you avoid any cuts, scratches, or irritation while tending to your plants.


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3. Watering Can: Proper watering is crucial to the health of your chicory plants. A good watering can with a long spout will make it easy to reach the base of the plants without causing damage to the leaves or stems.

4. Fertilizer: Chicory plants benefit from regular feeding with a balanced fertilizer. Look for a product specifically designed for vegetables, and follow the instructions carefully to avoid over- or under-fertilizing.

5. Mulch: Applying a layer of organic mulch around the base of your chicory plants can help retain moisture in the soil, prevent weeds from taking hold, and provide important nutrients as it breaks down over time.

By having these tools and pieces of equipment on hand, you’ll be well-equipped to care for your chicory plants and ensure they grow strong and healthy. With a little love and attention, your chicory crop can provide a bountiful harvest that’s both delicious and nutritious!

Preferred Soil Type

Chicory is a leafy vegetable that is known for its slightly bitter taste and vibrant blue flowers. In order to grow healthy and strong chicory plants, it is important to pay attention to their soil requirements.


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First and foremost, chicory plants prefer well-draining soil. This means that the soil should not remain excessively wet or soggy, as this can lead to root rot and other issues. Therefore, it is a good idea to add some sand or other coarse material to the soil to improve its drainage capabilities.

In addition to good drainage, chicory plants also need soil that is rich in nutrients. This can be accomplished by adding compost or other organic matter to the soil prior to planting. Nitrogen is particularly important for chicory plants, so consider adding a nitrogen-rich fertilizer to the soil as well.

It is also important to ensure that the soil pH is in the correct range for chicory plants. Ideally, the soil should have a pH of between 6.0 and 6.5. If your soil is too acidic or alkaline, you may need to add lime or sulfur to adjust the pH.

Finally, chicory plants prefer a soil that is slightly moist, but not overly wet. Be sure to water your plants regularly, but avoid overwatering or allowing the soil to become waterlogged.

By providing your chicory plants with well-draining, nutrient-rich, slightly acidic soil that is kept moist but not overly wet, you can help ensure that they grow healthy and strong. Happy gardening!

Watering Requirements

If you’re looking to grow chicory, one of the key factors that will determine its success is ensuring the plant has adequate amounts of water. Chicory is a hardy plant that can tolerate dry spells, but it still needs a good amount of water to thrive.

To start with, you’ll want to ensure that the soil you’re planting in is well-draining. Chicory roots are relatively long and slender, and if the soil is too wet, they can rot. On the other hand, if the soil is too dry, the plant won’t grow as well.

Once you’ve prepared the soil, you can begin watering your chicory. In general, you want to aim for about an inch of water per week, either from rain or irrigation. However, you’ll also want to pay attention to the weather and adjust watering accordingly.

If you’re experiencing a heatwave or drought, you may need to water your chicory more frequently. Conversely, if it’s been raining frequently, you may not need to water it at all. The key is to ensure that the soil stays evenly moist, but not waterlogged.

One thing to be aware of when watering chicory is that the plant can be susceptible to diseases such as fungal infections if the leaves get too wet. To avoid this, water the plants at the base rather than from above, and try to avoid getting the leaves wet.


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By providing your chicory with appropriate watering, you should be able to enjoy a bountiful harvest of this nutrient-dense green. With a little care and attention, your chicory will be healthy, strong, and full of flavor.

What You Need To Know About Fertilizing Chicory

Chicory is a hardy plant that is easy to grow, but like all plants, it requires proper care and attention to thrive. Fertilizing chicory is an essential part of this care, as it provides the plant with the nutrients it needs to grow healthy and strong.

To ensure your chicory plants get the best possible start, it is important to fertilize them properly. First, choose a high-quality fertilizer that is specifically formulated for leafy green vegetables like chicory. Look for a NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) ratio of 3-1-2 or 4-1-2, as this will provide the ideal mix of nutrients for your plants.

When to fertilize chicory plants?

It is best to fertilize chicory plants at the beginning of the growing season, before they start to produce leaves. This will help to ensure that they have all the nutrients they need to grow strong and healthy. Once the plants have been in the ground for a few weeks, you can also fertilize them again with a balanced fertilizer every 4-6 weeks depending on the soil quality and weather conditions.

How much fertilizer to use?

The amount of fertilizer you should use will depend on the size of your chicory plants and the type of fertilizer you are using. However, a general rule of thumb is to apply 1/2 to 1 pound of fertilizer per 100 square feet of garden area.

Fertilizing Tips:

– Do not over-fertilize- it can be detrimental to plant’s health.
– Always water the plants after applying fertilizer to help the nutrients settle into the soil.
– Avoid getting the fertilizer on the leaves of the plants, as this can cause them to burn.

In conclusion, proper fertilization is crucial for growing healthy chicory plants. Choose a high-quality fertilizer, apply it at the right time and in the right amount, and your chicory plants will reward you with nutritious and delicious leaves.

My Favorite Fertilizers For Chicory

To keep your chicory plants healthy and thriving, it’s important to choose the right type of fertilizer. Generally, chicory plants require a balanced fertilizer that provides a good amount of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium.

One of the best fertilizers for chicory plants is a slow-release, granular fertilizer that’s specially formulated for root crops. This type of fertilizer slowly releases nutrients over time, providing a steady supply of vital nutrients to your plants. Another good option is an organic fertilizer, such as compost or manure, which not only provides nutrients but also improves soil quality.

When fertilizing your chicory plants, be careful not to overdo it. Too much nitrogen can cause excessive leaf growth at the expense of root development, which is crucial for chicory plants. Aim to fertilize your plants every 2-3 weeks during the growing season, depending on the type of fertilizer and the specific needs of your plants.

In summary, the best fertilizers for chicory plants are balanced, slow-release fertilizers and organic options like compost or manure. By choosing the right fertilizer and using it responsibly, you can help your chicory plants grow strong and healthy.

Harvesting Chicory

Time To Maturity

Chicory is a perennial plant that can be found in a variety of climates and terrains. When planted from seed, chicory typically takes between 100-120 days to mature. However, this timeframe can vary depending on several factors, such as soil quality, temperature, and humidity.

When chicory seeds first sprout, they will begin to grow into small, green shoots. As these shoots continue to develop, they will eventually form a central rosette, which is a cluster of leaves that forms at the base of the plant. From here, the chicory plant will continue to grow and develop, forming a stem and additional leaves.

Once the chicory plant reaches maturity, which typically occurs around 3-4 months after sprouting, it can be harvested for consumption or left to flower. The flowers of the chicory plant are typically blue or purple, and they can be enjoyed for their aesthetic appeal.

While the time it takes for chicory to reach maturity can vary based on several factors, it is generally a hardy plant that can thrive in a variety of growing conditions. With proper care and attention, your chicory plants can provide a nutritious and delicious addition to your garden for years to come.

Harvest Instructions

Harvesting Chicory – A Guide

Chicory is a versatile and hardy herb that is used in various culinary and medicinal applications. If you are planning to harvest chicory, here is a step-by-step guide that will help you do it in the right way.


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Step 1 – Choose the Right Time to Harvest

Chicory can be harvested at different stages of growth, depending on your intended use. The leaves can be harvested for greens when the plant is young, while the roots are the main source of chicory for medicinal purposes. For culinary purposes, chicory leaves can also be harvested when the plant is mature, and the flowers can be picked for use in salads.

For root harvest, it is recommended to wait until the plant has been growing for at least two years. This will allow the root to develop its characteristic bitterness, which is highly valued in traditional medicine.

Step 2 – Gather the Necessary Tools

To harvest chicory roots, you will need a sharp spade or garden fork. For harvesting chicory leaves and flowers, you will need a pair of scissors or pruning shears.

Step 3 – Prepare the Soil

Before digging up chicory roots, loosen the soil around the plant with a hoe or garden fork. This will make it easier to remove the root without damaging it.

Step 4 – Harvest the Chicory Roots

Insert the spade or garden fork into the soil about 6 inches away from the plant’s stem. Gently loosen the soil by prying the fork or spade back and forth. Once the soil is loosened, gently lift the root out of the ground, taking care not to break it.

Step 5 – Harvest the Chicory Leaves and Flowers

For harvesting leaves and flowers, choose mature plants with deep green leaves and bright flowers. Snip the leaves and flowers off with a pair of scissors or pruning shears, leaving a few inches of stem attached to the plant.

Step 6 – Clean and Store the Harvested Chicory

Clean the chicory roots, leaves, and flowers with a damp cloth to remove any dirt or debris. Store the leaves and flowers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Store the roots in a dry and cool place, such as a cellar or pantry.

In Conclusion

Harvesting chicory can be a rewarding experience that provides both culinary and medicinal benefits. By following these simple steps, you can ensure that you harvest chic

My Favorite Tools For Harvest Time

When it comes to harvesting chicory, having the right tools and equipment can make all the difference. Whether you’re planning to harvest chicory as part of a commercial operation or for your home garden, there are a few key items you’ll need to ensure success.

First and foremost, you’ll need a good pair of gloves to protect your hands while harvesting. Chicory can be prickly and difficult to handle without protection, so invest in a sturdy pair of gloves that can withstand wear and tear.

Next, you’ll want to gather a few basic pruning tools. A pair of hand pruners or secateurs will help you cut through tough stems with ease, while a sharp, serrated knife can be useful for cutting through thicker roots. If you’ll be harvesting chicory in large quantities, consider investing in a pruning saw or hedge trimmer to speed up the process.

Finally, you’ll need a container to collect your harvested chicory in. This could be a large basket, a plastic bin, or even a repurposed bag or sack. Choose a container with plenty of space to hold all of your chicory, and make sure it’s easy to carry or transport.

Overall, harvesting chicory requires some preparation and the right tools, but with a little practice and persistence, you’ll be able to enjoy the delicious, nutritious bounty of this popular crop. Happy harvesting!

End of Season & Overwintering

Chicory is a hardy and versatile plant that can withstand cold temperatures of up to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. As such, it is an excellent choice for overwintering, which involves caring for the plant during the dormant period between seasons.

To prepare your chicory for the winter, first, you need to cut back the top growth to about two inches above the soil level. This will help the plant conserve its energy and focus on rooting and storing nutrients.

After pruning the plant, add a layer of organic mulch, such as straw or compost, around the base of the chicory. This will help to insulate the plant and protect its roots from freezing.

Throughout the winter, check on your chicory occasionally to ensure that the soil is moist but not waterlogged. Watering should be kept to a minimum during the winter months, as too much moisture can lead to root rot.

Once spring arrives, and temperatures begin to rise, remove the mulch and begin to water the plant more frequently to encourage new growth. If any dead or damaged leaves are present, remove them promptly to prevent disease from spreading.

In summary, overwintering chicory involves pruning the plant, adding a layer of mulch for insulation, and watering minimally but adequately. By following these steps, you can help your chicory thrive and produce a bountiful harvest in the spring.

Final Thoughts on Chicory

Congratulations! By now, you should have successfully grown your own batch of chicory – a versatile and delicious herb that can add a unique flavor to many dishes. Germinating and growing chicory can be a fun and rewarding experience. Preparing the soil, watering and providing adequate lighting are important to ensure that your chicory plants grow strong and healthy. Once your chicory has matured, you can begin harvesting the leaves and adding them to salads, sandwiches, soups, and other dishes you enjoy. Don’t forget to share your new knowledge with your friends and family, and perhaps even experiment with new ways of using your freshly grown chicory. Happy gardening!

Frequently Asked Questions About Growing Chicory

1) Q: What is the best way to plant chicory?
A: Chicory seeds should be planted in moist, well-drained soil in the spring or fall. They should be sown about 1/4 inch deep and 12 inches apart. Make sure to keep the soil consistently moist until the plants are established.

2) Q: How much sunlight does chicory require to grow?
A: Chicory prefers full sun to partial shade, but can tolerate some shade. Make sure to plant it in an area that receives at least 6 hours of sunlight per day.

3) Q: How long does it take for chicory to reach maturity?
A: Chicory typically takes around 80-100 days to reach maturity. The leaves can be harvested when they are young and tender, but the roots are best harvested after the first hard frost. They can then be dried and ground into a coffee substitute or used in salads.

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