Wild chicory is a herbaceous plant characterized by a root that has as many uses as the plant has. It can be recognized by the indigo color of its flowers, which grow approximately from May to October. The chicory plant should be watered daily and preferably in the evening: it suffers from the sun’s rays so it should be wet after sunset. It is also advisable to wet the soil avoiding the leaves: the water will be absorbed at the roots, allowing the growth of the plant.
If irrigated regularly, the plant grows well without the need for special care, up to a height of about ten centimeters. At this point it can be collected and consumed for the most varied uses. To promote its growth, however, it is advisable to use fertilizers, such as coffee grounds or others available on the market.
Cultivating wild chicory
Wild chicory is a simple plant to grow. The greatest difficulty is in finding the seeds (as not all specialist shops are provided). It is possible to buy them via the internet, or even easier to collect the heads in land far from pollution, let them dry and wait for spring. To make the seeds sprout, they should be placed on a bed of wet cotton and cover them with more cotton. When the shoots come out, it will be possible to plant them, both on the ground and in pots.
It is always advisable to plant in soft soil rich in nutrients for the plants. On the contrary, dry soils could prevent the healthy growth of the plant. If you opt for the pot it is preferable to use specialized soils, rather than finding soil from gardens or soils.
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How to fertilize chicory
If you choose to grow chicory in a pot, it is advisable to buy special soils, avoiding to find land from gardens or land. The soil recovered in this way could contain eggs of parasites, aphids, insects, snails, caterpillars and other poisonous animals and harmful to the plant. Wild chicory does not need much care and fertilisation is not essential.
However, it is good practice to use a garlic distillate to protect the plant from aphids and small animals, or even to put in the ground (near the roots) cloves of whole. Another useful remedy for keeping caterpillars and pests away is to place the coffee grounds close to the base of the plant. If the cultivation has been successful, it is always advisable to avoid eradicating the roots to allow the plant to grow again the following year.
Wild chicory: Possible diseases and remedies
Wild chicory could be attacked by snails, which are very fond of it; to overcome this problem, traps can be placed around the area. Other frequent parasites are aphids, which can be removed organically using garlic and nettle infusions. Another danger is water stagnation due to excessive irradiation, which easily leads to rottenness. Watering must therefore be moderated and rotten plants eliminated.
Even bacterial diseases could affect our culture, causing stains and rottenness; to fight it, we must immediately eliminate infected plants and prevent it with crop rotations and using clean water to irrigate with the rain method. All treatments should be carried out in the evening, avoiding direct sunlight.