How to grow the Belgian salad organically
The Belgian salad is a vegetable belonging to the family of couscous from cespo also known as Belgian endive or even Witloof chicory. In this guide we will see how to cultivate the Belgian salad in a biological way and the techniques to be adopted to obtain the characteristic bleaching.
This chicory is to be sown in the vegetable gardens in a period that can go from March to July and it is preferable to first prepare a seedbed in polystyrene containers to be transplanted to rows with distances of 15 cm between the plants and 20-30 cm between rows. Before the plant you have to prepare the soil well with two processes: a main one with which you will bring the mature manure or compost and you will carry out the elimination of winter vegetation and one of refining and leveling the soil with which you will prepare this for sowing.
As a cultivation technique it needs the same techniques that are used for radicchio or other endives.
The main characteristic of this cultivation lies in the forcing that consists in removing, at a certain point of the vegetative cycle, the seedlings and transplanting them in special boxes to be cultivated in dark and closed premises. The operation is normally carried out at the end of September (or with the first winter chills) cutting these salads about one cm above the collar, removing all the leaves (which can be used cooked) and transplanting the root thus obtained in boxes or pallets in the dark and indoors.
Let’s see in detail how transplantation takes place in boxes or pallets. These containers must be prepared with layers of 4-6 cm of new compost, still able with its fermentative activity to heat the substrate with a further layer of about 10 cm of soil or, preferably, sand. The roots of chicory, before being transplanted in this substrate, they are cleaned of all the eventual side propaggini. Once placed in these containers the roots must emerge one or two centimeters from the substrate level; these may be very close but never come to direct contact. The irrigation will be very small as in these conditions the soil will remain quite moist.
After about a month from this transplant the new leafy plant (chicon) will be generated which, if you have respected the dark conditions will assume the characteristic white color of the heart of Belgian endive. It should be noted that after the first collection from the roots, smaller and smaller leaves will be generated which can still be harvested and consumed.