Chicory is not fussy about soil type. However it does require a sunny spot. Dig the soil in autumn or winter and incorporate compost if the soil is short of humus. Prepare the seed bed a few days before sowing. Rake a general purpose fertiliser into the surface.
Hoe regularly to keep weeds down. Water when the weather is dry. Thin the seedlings to 6” apart (forcing varieties) or 12” apart (nonforcing varieties).
Lift parsnip like roots in November. Discard ones that are fanged or less than 1” across at the crown. Cut back leaves to 1” above the crown. Cut roots to a length of 6” and pack them horizontally in a box of sand in a cool shed and keep until required. Force a few at a time between November and March. Plant about 5 plants into a 9” pot. Surround each root with moist peat or compost, leaving the crown exposed. Cover the pot with an empty larger one, blocking up drainage holes to prevent light. Keep at 50–60 °F to promote chicon formation.
Forcing varieties : The chicons are ready when they reach about 6” high. This will take about 3–4 weeks from the start of forcing. Cut just above the level of the crown. Water the compost and replace the cover and smaller secondary chicons will then appear. Non-forcing varieties : Cut heads in late autumn – use immediately or store in a cool shed for later use. Provide some frost protection over plants if they are not to be cut until the winter.