Some veg are more labour-intensive than others. Take chicory. It turns up in the shops as uniform torpedoes of bitter, blanched crunchiness. As it's not that cheap, last year I thought I'd grow it myself.
Equipment marshalled - large, deep cardboard box; large sheet of plastic. Around November, I...
- lined the box with the plastic.
- Filled with soil and compost to about two thirds full.
- Realised that the box would be staying exactly where it was (in the centre of the outhouse) for the rest of the winter as it was now the weight of a small elephant.
- Extracted several heads of chicory (which I'd sown in the spring) from the raised bed.
- Cut off the leaves to within an inch of the root, excavated hole in box big enough to bury entire root.
- Excavated again as hole so deep that sides fell in.
- Excavated again...
- And again...
- Finally rammed in root and started again on two others.
By the end of December, beneath the closed lid of the box, I had something promising. The chicons didn't ever achieve that neat, folded look of the shop-bought variety (the leaves tended to be a touch twisted for some reason - possibly from the nibblings of a couple of small slugs that had found themselves transported with the soil), but, boy, were they crisp and crunchy and, above all, juicy in a way that the shop versions aren't.
Worth another go, I thought this year. Only...why the box? Why not just save myself a lot of work and slice off the top of a couple of heads in the raised bed and stick a bucket over? No effort wasted.
Come the end of December I removed said bucket and found...two stalks.
By the following week I had...nothing at all.
This week, I raised the bucket and found one small sprout with, I suspect, little hope in its heart of ever becoming a big one.
So, all I've achieved is the provision of a delicate salading for various gourmet slugs. No work involved. No chicory, either. Hmmph.
Next year, it's back to the box.
Meanwhile, see how Alex Mitchell's fared with her chicory this year.