Escarole Seed – Selfer with a couple challenges

Escarole is the last Selfer we’re talking about for #seedsavingformarketgardeners

Escarole might be bitter and beautiful and have many similarities to chicories. But Escaroles and chicories are not the same thing.

  • Escaroles are selfers that barely cross.(Almost Superselfers like lettuce – I think) They tend to come in shades of green with not much of a defined head.
  • Chicories are croseers and come in the full green to purple spectrum. Many chicories (though not all) form a dense head of delicious wonderfulness.

From the Wild Garden Seed catalog, I’ve learned that chicory and escarole can occasionally cross but probably not enough to worry about. Just enough to get excited about and say, “ hey, wow, that’s a chicendive!!!’

What chicory and endive do have in common is that it is exceedingly frustrating to get their seeds off the plant. The seeds just won’t let go. We’ve hit them with rakes and sticks and rolling pins and they just don’t shatter. Since we converted a soil shredder into a stationary thresher, we’ve had more success. But it seems like a lot of work to get the bulk seed we need as commercial seed growers.

Of course, If you’re only looking for a few thousand seeds to cover your market garden needs,  no problem.

So here’s what Escarole has going for it for #seedsavingformarketgardeners

?  Selfer

?  Easy to get enough seeds for a market garden.

What are the cons?

??  Escaroles (and chicories) are biennials. 

That means you plant them in the summer, they are great for eating in the fall / winter but they only go to seed the next year.

In our Quebec climate, escarole doesn’t reliably overwinter in the open field. We need to protect them through the winter. We can do that by covering escarole with tunnels in the field or by digging them up and storing them through the winter and replanting them in the spring. 

Technically, I wouldn’t recommend escarole as a first seed crop. But once you’ve honed your seed skills this is an easy one to save!

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