Growing Belgian Endive

Forced Endive in Feb

by Catherine Haug, November 9, 2012

Last year, Don Bates gave an excellent presentation on using Garden Season Extenders. He showed a photo of forcing Belgian Endive shoots in a bucket of sand that he kept in his root cellar, to have greens through the winter (see his photo, right). This intrigued me, as I too have a root cellar and I love endive.

Endive is delicious raw or cooked. See Cat’s Kitchen (my personal website) for a delicious recipe: Endive and Apple Salad with Warm Goat Cheese.

Today I happened upon a great photo-essay on how to grow endive this way: Kitchen Gardeners International: Growing Belgian Endive, by Roger Doiron. I plan to give this a try next year. But do I really have to sacrifice those lovely first greens to my compost pile?

Here’s a synopsis of the growing method:

  • First you grow it normally in your garden, from seed.
  • Then you carefully harvest the roots, cut off the greens (for composting), trim the roots, and then pack them vertically in a bucket. Don’s hint: pack in several small buckets so you can force only a few at a time, as in photo, above.
  • Fill the bucket(s) with sand and set this in your root cellar.
  • When you are ready to grow some endive shoots, you move the bucket to a warmer area and soon you’ll have those familiar white leafy shoots.

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