by: Scott Eckert, KSU County Extension Agent, Horticulture
Endive is a hardy, leafy vegetable similar to lettuce in growth habit and use. Endive has a crinkled leaf, while escarole has a broad, flat leaf. The flavor is stronger than lettuce, but both make an excellent addition to a mixed green salad.
Varieties – Endive varieties include Green Curled and Salad King. Escarole varieties include Broad Leaved Batavian, Florida Deep Heart, and Full Heart Batavian.
When to plant – These leafy green vegetables do not like hot weather and must be planted early in the spring for best results. Starting seedlings indoors and setting out transplants in early April is advisable. Direct seeding in mid-July or setting out transplants in early August is suitable for growing fall crops.
These leafy crops are hardy and can withstand freezes in the fall. Like most leafy greens, they require consistent watering and are fairly shallow rooted. They also require fairly rich or well-fertilized soil.
Harvest – Cut the entire plant at ground level and discard the dark- green outer leaves. The most desirable part of the plant is the bleached light green/yellow leaves near the center. Store leaves in plastic bags in a refrigerator for several weeks.