How to Get Ready For the Early Spring Vegetable Garden
Chicory is a herb that produces tall stalks with purple, gold, or white flowers. The flowers appear to be tiny roses. Chicory is most popular for being used in casseroles, vegetable dishes, soups, stews, salads, as well as in many desserts. Chicory can also be used to decorate with.
With hot temperatures in the summer it makes large amounts of tiny leaves in the flower crown. Although Chicory has a large taproot, it is susceptible and easily damaged by excessive hoof activity, grazing, and extreme frost heaving. Spread chicory seeds on existing grassy pastures before the ground freezes at night or early in the morning when the ground tends to freeze. They will remain dormant until morning, after which time they will sprout. Be sure to spread the seeds on a thin layer of the lawn after the grass has warmed up.
If you want to grow chicory in the garden, you need to be patient. Chicory takes between four and seven weeks to harvest. It will produce one to two pounds of blossoms in a four-week season. The average yield per year is one leaf. Chicory grows best in acidic soils and if you plan to pick off the mature leaves or roots at this stage be careful about the quality of soil you use because they have a mild tendency to rust and can rot.
If you are considering growing chicory seeds because they have a mild flavor that is hard to find elsewhere, try growing them indoors. Chicory plants will grow just as well outdoors as they do indoors. When you harvest your crop, be careful not to cut too deep. You want to leave a clear head space between each cutting. When the plant flowers the flowers will push the roots down to the dirt and take up all the nutrients from it.
Once you have established a planting area where the chicory seeds can be sown, be sure to place them in water containers. Watering at this stage is very important. If you do not water your seeds, they will go to seed rather than sprouting. Be sure to check the water container everyday throughout the planting period. If the seeds dry out too much you may need to water more often. Be sure to make sure your planting area receives four to six hours of daylight and be sure to protect the planting area from wind or cold by laying covers over it during those winter months.
When the chives begin to flower in the early spring, the first aphids you should see are those on the lower leaves. The adults do not attack the leaves until after the flowers have bloomed all the way through. Aphids do not feed on chives. They are the pests that destroy the leaves by chewing through them and sucking up the sap. You will only see this type of pest on the lower leaf stems as the sap leaks out and when you get to this point you will know that the chives are being attacked.
Two types of caterpillars that can be attacking your growing chicory seeds are white-flies and praying mantis. Both of these pests actually eat the plant but the praying mantis actually eat the seeds. They also do this with their bodies as well as their wings. They usually appear around late summer to early fall and are more common during the nights.
When the early spring season arrives, you can then pull your seeds out of the ground. Make sure you dig them up instead of letting them sit in wet soil. If you let them sit in wet soil chances are they are going to stay growing. Instead of pulling your chicory seeds from the ground, you will want to take them indoors and store them for later in the season. This is a very easy way to ensure that your chives will be ready to go when the real early springtime arrives.