Maybe you’ve heard of them or even eaten them, but have you ever grown endive microgreens? Endive is a lesser-known leaf vegetable that looks like little torpedos of lettuce. It’s a tasty plant, but unfortunately can be difficult to grow to maturity in some areas. That’s why we’d like to introduce a fairly easy way to enjoy this veggie!
Growing endive microgreens is much easier than growing a mature plant. Plus, they have strong flavors and surprisingly large amounts of nutrients, like Vitamin C. These healthy plants have a mildly bitter flavor that provides a nice contrast in sandwiches and soups. They also make very pretty garnishes.
When grown correctly indoors, cultivated endive microgreens have oblong, smooth cotyledons. These baby leaves are spring green in color with white or red-tinted stems. Unlike most microgreens, each sprout doesn’t have a long stem. But, each green leaf more than makes up for that with its weight and delicious flavor.
Endive microgreens grow very similarly to most micros, such as arugula, lettuce, and beets. You can grow microgreens from any type of endive, with the most well-known varieties being curly endive and broadleaved endive. Broad-leaved endive is also called escarole or broadleaf Batavian. Curly endive often goes by chicory.
The best part about growing endive microgreens? It only takes two weeks to get a harvest! You’ll have a steady supply of endive microgreen salads if timed right. To help you get there, we’ll share our very best growing tips for endive microgreens.
Epic Products You Might Need For Growing Endive Microgreens:
Endive Microgreens Quick Info
|Ideal Harvest:||8-15 days|
Growing Endive Microgreens
You can grow endive microgreens like most other microgreens, so this process may sound familiar. If you’re new to microgreens, you’ll quickly get the hang of how to grow them.
Start by collecting the following microgreen materials:
- Seeds: any variety of endive seed
- Growing medium: seed-starting mix or our Urban Worm coconut coir
- Light: we strongly recommend a T5 grow light for microgreens
- Containers: 2 shallow growing trays (one with drainage holes)
- Misting bottle
- Small weight (less than 5 pounds)
- Kitchen shears
A microgreen is a stage of growth that all young plants go through, no matter what their seeds were labeled. While you can use any endive seed to produce microgreens, we’re especially fond of the microgreens seed sold by True Leaf Market, which comes in larger quantities than an average seed packet and is a much better value. Our personal favorites are below:
It’s tempting to use the supplies you have on hand, but endive microgreen sprouts need the recommended trays and soil to be successful. Because we harvest them so young, we need the seedlings to grow as tall and straight as possible. The roots need to be able to navigate the soil easily, which is why we use fine-grained soil. The seeds also need good soil aeration, which is easy to achieve when the trays match the size of the plants. Endive microgreens can be grown in a hydroponic medium, but that isn’t recommended if you want to grow past the microgreens stage.
Lastly, we highly recommend investing in a grow light if you’re serious about growing microgreens. These micros need stable conditions, which means they’re usually grown indoors. However, they also need to be directly below their light source to form a uniform mat of greens. Grow lights make it possible to control the placement and amount of light for your endive microgreen plant, resulting in a healthy, tasty crop.
Endive seeds are small and thin enough that they don’t need to be soaked before germination.
Before planting the microgreen seeds, we need to prepare the trays. Grab the shallow growing tray that has drainage holes. Then, fill it all the way with fine-grained soil. Smooth out the surface and make it as level as possible.
Sprinkle your endive microgreen seeds across the entire surface. They should be grown very close together – much closer than you would normally plant – but not overlapping (if the mat grows too rich, it won’t have good air flow). Mist the scattered seeds with water.
Since they’re usually grown underground, seeds like to germinate in the dark. Instead of covering them with soil, we will use a blackout cover. This blocks out the light without giving the greens more soil to grow through (we want them as tall as possible!). After watering, place your second, holeless tray directly on top of the seed surface. Place a small weight on top and leave the tray in place for the entire germination time.
Endive microgreen seeds only take 2-3 days to germinate. We’re going to push the blackout time a bit further. By forcing the sprouts the struggle against the weighted cover tray, we’re ensuring that strong stems will be grown. In just a few days after germination, the seedlings will grow together and push up the heavy tray. This is your sign that the young plants are ready for some light.
When you remove the cover trays, your endive microgreens will be pale in color. Don’t worry, though! With light and cultivation, they’ll soon unfold bright green leaves. Position your grow lights 1-2 feet directly above the growing trays. Turn them on for at least 12 hours a day (most grow lights have a timer). If the endive microgreen’s green growth seems leggy, lower the light closer to the soil surface.
Depending on the temperature and humidity indoors, you may need to water your endive microgreens before they’re ready to harvest. Microgreens require a special watering process: bottom watering. The goal of this is to saturate the growing medium while keeping all green growth as dry as possible. This prevents mold and bacteria, which easily take hold since the green micros are grown so close together.
You can reuse the holeless tray that acted as a microgreen blackout cover to bottom water. This time though, it’s going to go underneath the grow tray. First, fill it with an inch of water, and then set the grow tray directly in it. The soil will soak up water through the tray’s drainage holes without getting the grown microgreens wet. After 10-15 minutes, separate the trays.
In just 8-15 days after planting, the endive seed will grow into delicious, mildly bitter, young plants. You’ll know they’ve reached the endive microgreen stage when they’ve each grown a handsome set of green cotyledons. These precursors to leaves should be completely unfolded and supported by stems at least an inch tall.
You can harvest your endive microgreens crop all at once or over the span of a few days. As the microgreen grows, the flavor profile will become more bitter. If you want your endive microgreens to be on the bitter side, wait until a true leaf grows in before harvesting.
You’ll need either a sharp knife or pair of kitchen scissors to harvest your micro green trays. Grab a bunch of bitter microgreens in one hand and clip all the stems as close to the surface as possible. Once harvested, you should compost the microgreen growing medium and wash the tray for later use.
Of course, the best part of growing microgreens is mealtime! Once harvested, put those strong flavors to work in sandwiches, soups, and microgreen salads. The bitter flavor of endive microgreens makes them a great lettuce replacement. It also provides nice contrast when it garnishes sweet or savory dishes.
If you don’t eat all of your microgreen harvest at once, you can store it for up to a week. Keep the leaves as fresh as possible by keeping them dry. Wrap them in a paper towel, seal them in a container, and place them in the fridge. If the greens start to lose quality, replace the paper towel.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Which microgreens should not be eaten?
A: While microgreens have strong flavors that give a nice contrast to soups and sandwiches, not all plants are suited for consumption. Avoid any plants whose leaves aren’t edible, particularly those in the nightshade family (that includes microgreen tomatoes!).
Q: What are the most profitable micro greens?
A: Arugula, red-veined sorrel, and radish microgreens are some of the most popular microgreen garnishes.
Q: Are microgreens poisonous?
A: That depends on the microgreen plant being harvested. Many lettuce, corn, and herb microgreens, like endive microgreens, are safe to eat and popularly grown. Plants that don’t have edible leaves aren’t safe to consume in microgreen salads.
Q: Which microgreens regrow after cutting?
A: Pea and bean microgreens may regrow after they’re harvested. However, they may develop a more bitter flavor and less nutrients the second time around. Endive microgreens don’t regrow after harvesting.