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How to sow and grow endive

There are a lot of types of endive out there. Ours is an old variety that does well in the fall. The plants grow slowly and can handle cold temperatures and bad weather.
Andijvie in de Makkelijke Moestuin
Endive: ready to harvest

What is endive?

Endive is an annual leafy vegetable related to chicory.

The leaves taste a little more bitter than lettuce. They're great cooked or raw, by themselves or in a stew or a Dutch mash pot

The plants form hearty heads which just fit into a 30x30 cm square patch when they're fully grown. So, start picking the leaves fairly early on. Or harvest the first heads when they're still small and let the others keep growing.

Endive is full of vitamins and minerals

Endive is rich in vitamins A, B11 (folic acid), C, and in minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and potassium. Endive also contains a lot of vitamin K, which is important for the blood and bones.

So, it helps you get strong and fights off anemia.

More about our endive

Endive comes in many varieties. We use a good old slow-growing endive. It can withstand cold temperatures and bad weather.

  • Species name: Broadleaf Volhart Winter
  • Family: leaf
  • Plants per square patch: 4
  • Height: 15 to 25 cm
  • Sowing time: early June until late September
  • Sowing depth: 0.5 to 1 cm
  • Germination time: between 18 and 22°C in 8 to 15 days
  • Time to harvest: 8 to 12 weeks
  • Sunlight: can grow in sun or shade

Want to buy endive seeds? We sell the seed bags separately or you can also find them in our seasonal seed pack:

What do you need to grow endive?

All you need is:

  • a 30x30 cm patch with an airy, nutrient-rich soil mix
  • endive seeds
  • a spot with 4 hours of sunlight a day

In other words, an MM-Mini, or a square patch in one of our garden boxes, filled with MM-Mix.

Growing endive in this perfect soil mix is super easy. If you use poor-quality (potting) soil, it's much harder and the results will be disappointing. So just go for the best.

How do you sow and grow endive?

Endive is included in the free Planty Gardening app. Use it, and you'll get step-by-step guidance from seed to harvest.

Each vegetable goes through a number of stages - we call them levels. The app tells you exactly what to do at each level and checks in when your plants are ready for the next one.

So you don't need to know how to grow endive in advance: the app takes you through every step.

But if you'd like to read more about those steps, here's what the process looks like:
Andijvie planten in de Makkelijke Moestuin
Endive plants in the fall

Level 1: Sowing endive

Choose a patch in the front row of your garden box. Make the soil mix loose and damp. Then sow the seeds like this:

  1. poke 4 holes in the patch (no deeper than 1 cm)
  2. put 2 to 3 seeds in each hole
  3. carefully cover up the holes with soil mix

Depending on the weather and the time of year, you'll start to see something come up after about a week.

Level 2: Endive seedlings

If you see the first seedlings, you know you're on track.

They probably won't all come up at once, but after another week, you should see most of them.

Then it's time for the next level.

Level 3: Thinning endive seedlings

More than one seedling may come up in the holes you sowed. Choose the best seedlings and remove the rest: that's called thinning out.

That might sound harsh, but it's necessary to give the remaining plants the room they need to grow. So, you'll end up with 4 healthy endive plants.

If you see places where nothing came up, sow a few more seeds.

And make sure there aren't any snails around: they love these seedlings.
Uitgedunde zaailingen andijvie in de Makkelijke Moestuin
Thinned out seedlings

Level 4: Taking care of your endive plants

After a week or 2, your seedlings will become small plants.

They don't need you to do much for the next few weeks: water them in dry weather and remove dead or yellow leaves once in a while. Easy 🙂
Kleine andijvie planten Makkelijke Moestuin
Small endive plants

Level 5: Harvesting endive

At this stage, it's about 7 to 8 weeks after sowing and the plants are ready for the first harvest.

There are 2 ways to harvest:

Option 1:

Cut or pick the individual leaves. As long as you leave the center, new leaves will continue to grow.

Then you can keep harvesting for a few weeks.

Option 2:

Harvest the whole heads. Cut off 1 or 2 of the heads just above the soil mix. They'll probably be a bit small at first.

Let the remaining heads keep growing. You'll harvest them in the coming weeks.

How do you use endive?

You eat the leaves of the endive plant. 

The young leaves are delicious in salads. Add raw to mashed potatoes with cheese or bacon. 

You can also blanch endives or add them to a stir fry.

The last two levels

For the last levels, you'll keep harvesting the endive until there's none left.

The plants are resistant to cold, so you can leave them for a long time. But in rainy weather, the water might gather in their dense heads and cause them to rot. So don't wait too long to harvest.

For the last level, you'll empty your endive patch in your garden box or MM-Mini and prepare it for your next round of sowing.
Andijvie kan goed tegen kou
Endive can handle cold weather

So, why grow your own endive?

It's a delicious and easy vegetable to grow, and it's super healthy too.

Plus: with our app and materials, it's pretty much impossible to fail 😉

Order your endive seeds here or get growing with a complete starter kit:

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