Curly Endive are the salad leaves that you reach for when the caterpillars have eaten all your lettuce. They're much hardier and don't attract many vermin at all. The taste adds a hint of bitter to your salad when mixed with other leaves.
There are a few different names for this plant and its varieties. Frisee or chicory endive are some examples. In America you might be growing chicory.
Other varieties of endive include the more cold tolerant 'batavian' and 'salad king'.
Witloof, also called chicory or endive, is related. This vegetable is grown in the dark to produce pale, tender leaves.
Starting: Sow endive seeds directly where they are to grow. The seedlings appear in one to three weeks. Thin to space the plants 20 to 30 cm apart.
Soil: Freely draining compost or rich loam is best.
Climate: The endive plant is a winter vegetable in hotter climates, but grow it in spring and autumn where it's cooler. The curly variety tolerates heat better than other types of endive. Protect it from frost.
Watering: Water regularly to reduce bitterness. Avoid getting water on the base of the plant as this can lead to rot.
Fertilizing: Liquid fertilizer sparingly.
Harvesting: It will grow to a full head in two to three months. An inverted pot can be placed over the plant for the last two weeks to blanch the leaves. This treatment renders the leaves sweeter that can otherwise be somewhat bitter and coarse.
Containers: Grow them as 'cut and come again' leaves in a pot about 25 cm wide by 20 cm deep.
Shady areas: Will grow quite well in shade.
Pests and Diseases: Not many pests bother this plant. Slugs and snails occasionally swing by. Mould and fungus appear around the base if there is too much moisture, or if too much nitrogen rich fertilizer has been applied.