Friday 31 August 2018

Pricking-out Endive seedlings

Just over three weeks ago I sowed a tray of Endive seedlings. I'm hoping that after a very poor Summer for salad vegetables (due to the heat and lack of rainfall) I'll be able to produce some decent salad in the Autumn, when it will hopefully be cooler and damper!

Mature (and blanched) Endive. Photo from 2017

The Endives I sowed were a mix of "Wallone" and "Grosse Pancaliere", both from packets of seeds sourced for me in France by my daughter, who knows that a much wider range of Endive seeds is available there, as compared to the UK. My plan is that the two varieties will mature at slightly different times, giving me an extended harvest. The "Wallone" variety is supposedly OK until December, so it must be quite hardy.

Well, anyway, three weeks later, I judged that the Endives were ready for pricking-out - in other words transferring from their seed-tray into individual pots. This will allow them to grow on without competition from their siblings and develop a strong root-system prior to being planted out. Each little plant has at least two proper leaves now, with a second pair just forming.

Endive plants often grow quite big - usually bigger than a lettuce - so I won't be able to grow huge quantities of them in my small garden. I could, I suppose, put some in up at my Courtmoor Avenue plot, where there is plenty of space, but I don't have the means to protect them up there. When the weather turns cold I usually put cloches over my Endives, and I don't have loads of cloches...

So, I have pricked-out 22 plants, determined mainly by how many 3-inch pots fit into two of my seed-trays!

With so many seedlings to choose from, I was able to select the strongest, most promising specimens. I rejected any that looked weak, or had very small roots. This is the advantage of sowing a lot more seeds than you really need, and it makes sense to do so when seeds are cheap. Each of the packets of seeds I used must have contained several hundred seeds.

Even after pricking-out my 22 plants and discarding about the same number, I had still used only about half of what I started with. I'll keep these for a little bit longer, until such time as I'm happy that the potted-up ones are well established and growing strongly.

One final thought for today: I have observed that slugs don't like Endives (which is nice...). Maybe they find them too bitter? If I had a tray of Lettuce seedlings outside right now, I would have to protect them, but Endives manage without.

1 comment:

  1. I did not know about the slug thing, they don't like endives, really? That's new!


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