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22 May 2013


Chicory is a bitter green that grows well into winter, and is very pretty!
Category: General
Posted by: christina

This particular beauty, growing up at Jennifer's place in Mt Nelson, is Red Verona chicory. Pretty good looking, eh?! The soft leaves have a bitter taste, but if that's the sort of thing you like, chicory is a hardy and beautiful salad plant.

We planted seed of this variety, along with other chicories such as Treviso, back in August last year. Jennifer has been picking the leaves for fresh salads almost daily since the time they were big enough to bother with. A cold snap of frosty weather can stimulate the plant to produce beautiful red coloured new leaves, which in some varieties will form a head.

People do all sorts of weird things to chicory plants, like "forcing" them in order to produce a blanched or lighter coloured heart that isn't as strongly bitter flavoured. This seems like a waste of effort to me - if you don't like bitter greens, plant winter lettuces like mignonettes! I like a few finely sliced chicolry leaves in a mixed salad. My brothers and sisters, under the influence of my Italian grandparents, all love eating huge amounts of pure chicory salad, with the leaves cut into fine strips. Its very good for your liver and a blood tonic, so I'm told!

If you let a chicory plant grow out to flower and seed, you'll see the beautiful starry purple flowers (related to sunflowers). If you dare throw a gone-to-seed plant in the compost, you'll have chicory for ever after, popping up randomly around the garden where-ever you spread your compost!

Other winter greens that are great to sow now (even in the cold weather) are winter lettuces and English spinach. YUM!

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