How to grow organic chicory
The production of puntarelle is certainly an adventure of sure satisfaction. For this cultivation are mainly used two varieties of chicory (Cichorium intybus), namely: the chicory of Gaeta puntarella, characterized by longer and tapered shoots and chicory variety puntarella of Galatina, characterized instead by the largest and most compact internal shoots.
For cultivation you can choose two periods: spring or autumn. However, depending on the area, avoid the ripening period of the plant during the hot months or during the winter frosts. Then sow in seedbeds in February-March for spring cultivation and in early August for autumn cultivation. After about a month you can do the transplant in the open field.
The most suitable soil for the cultivation must be of medium mixture, deep and with good drainage, for the rest it does not have particular requirements. Before transplanting in the vegetable garden or in open fields, provide a good organic fertilization (cattle manure and earthworm humus is preferable). Never use nitrogen fertilizers. Then reseat the plant in this soil for a time fertilized with the organic. To reach full maturation and therefore with a good conformation of the so-called puntarelle it is necessary a period that oscillates, depending on the climatic trend, from 50-60 days.
As for the distance I recommend about 30-40 cm on the row and 50 cm between the rows.
As for irrigation remember that if you want the well-formed puntarelle, crisp and keep water supplies must be regular, with water that reach deep and if you want to give greater health to these plants mulching is a technique to use.
For the collection of these plants you can operate in two ways: either completely eradicating the plant for total consumption after eliminating the roots and the less tender parts, or by cutting with a sharp knife the central part (the true point of the plant) to then get further rickets.
For the defense against parasites it is important to underline that the real danger is represented by black aphids (especially during the spring wet periods). The nettle macerate is particularly effective with these chicory. Another very recommended method for obtaining a healthier cultivation and superior organoleptic quality of this chicory is the technique of mixing (also in binate rows) with carrots, climbing beans, lettuce, fennel and tomatoes. The association combines a good allelopathic effect between the roots and a mutual protection of these plants against certain insects and pests.