Endive cultivation is ideal for sowing and planting during the coldest periods of the year. Although escarole, since there are many types, is one of those vegetables that can be grown throughout the year, it is a plant that prefers less hot periods.
This does not mean that it cannot be grown in summer or spring, but it is important to know that too hot periods should be avoided because the crop would be damaged or it could even bloom, becoming inedible.
Without a doubt, the coldest periods of the year are the best for its development, being able to classify it in the list of crops to be sown and plant in autumn and winter. In addition to supporting the cold, it supports temperatures down to -6º, although the ideal temperature for growing escarole is between 10º and 24º.
How and when to plant escarole
The first thing we will do is plant the escarole in nurseries or coffee cups. The ideal is to do it in stages and not all the seeds at the same time, so as not to have to harvest them all at once, as we explained recently in the recent article on how harvest the caulifloweror as on other occasions with lettuce, a crop similar to escarole.
The staggered sowing will be done with a first batch and another 15 days later. In this way we avoid that the harvest of endives is much greater than what we are going to consume and that we end up with so many endives that we do not know what to do with them.
We fill nurseries or coffee cups with a substrate for seedlingsthat we can prepare it ourselves as we have already explained on different occasions in La Huertina, or we can buy it.
Substrates – Seedbeds Substrate 10l. – Battle
- Ideal substrate to provide optimal germination conditions for seeds. It contains an exact blend of perlite and vermiculite which provide ideal water and nutrient retention.
- Organic Matter on Dry Matter: 58%; pH: 7; Bulk density compacted in the laboratory: 0.33 kg/l;
- Dry matter: 40%; Electrical Conductivity (EC): 25mS/m; Nutrient content: 1.1% nitrogen, 0.4% phosphorus, 0.8% potassium
We fill the seedbeds or coffee cups with the substrate, leaving about a finger unfilled, then place the seeds in this space.
We will place two or three seeds for each seedbed, to make sure that at least one of them germinates or comes out strong, and if all three germinate, we can choose the one that is the best developed.
Once all the seeds have been placed, we sprinkle the substrate to finish covering them and fill this space with a finger that we have left, and we water gently and little by little so that the seed is not exposed by the jet of water or ends up floating.
Where do you put the seedbed?
Where to place the seedbed will depend on when we started sowing the endive. For example, if we start cultivation at the end of summer, the seedbed can be left in the sun. If it is in winter, it must be placed in a protected place, because it needs about 15 or 18 degrees to germinate. Either way, it’s a seed that needs time to germinate.
Escarole plant: how and when to do it
The next step will be to plant the escarole in the garden, in its final place. Keep in mind that the seeds will germinate between 2 and 3 weeks after sowing, so the next step is to transplant them.
The ideal place is in full sun, although it can be planted in partial shade. In this case, it will take a little longer to grow and develop.
If the culture of the endive is not demanding in nutrients, we bring organic matter rich in nitrogen, or better earthworm humusas well as if we add potassium with irrigation, which we can do with comfrey porridge Where banana teaits development will be much more grateful.
We will do this more or less between 4 and 6 weeks after sowing, when the plant already has several small leaves and is about 10-15 centimeters tall. If we have not planted them and bought the plants for transplanting, they will already be the ideal size.
It is important to plant the escarole in a staggered manner, to avoid that you end up harvesting more endives than you can eat.
The ideal distance for our escarole plants to develop well is about 30 centimeters. As you can see in the video, it is also possible to make it triangular in order to make the most of the space.
Once we have finished planting our escarole, the first thing we will do is give it a good watering so that it settles well, then we will add a orchard mulch. In this way we manage to maintain humidity, nourish the soil, protect its microbial life and prevent the emergence of adventitious weeds that could compete for space, water and nutrients.
Endive is a culture that prefers humidity, and despite the fact that it supports drought but not too much, it is therefore better to keep the substrate rather humid. It is therefore necessary to monitor the risks, which must be slight but constant.
To do this, we must check that the soil is moist but at the same time drains very well, to avoid waterlogging that could lead to rotting of the stem and root of our plant.
The support culture you know it’s very important. In the case of escarole, it can be combined with the following vegetables:
- green peas
As you can see in the video I installed a mesh for plant peas. But as you can see from the list, I could also associate it with beans, also using the mesh, or plant strawberries or any other vegetable from the list.
Plagues and diseases
As far as diseases or pests are concerned, there are usually not many, apart from snails, slugs and caterpillars. We have already explained to you on other occasions how to deal with snails and slugs in the gardenas well as the different methods for killing caterpillars.
In this case, what I did was use plastic bottles to protect them from this plague, at least for the first few weeks.
The last thing is to let our escarole grow little by little, while controlling the risks. If we have done our homework well, maintained a good rhythm of irrigation, as long as it is necessary for the soil to be suitable for the cultivation of escarole, between 10 and 13 weeks, or what is the same between 70 and 90 days , we can start harvesting them.
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