Common chicory, or Cichorium intybus, is one of our favorite herbs to grow here at Kindred Acres. I LOVE to roast the root as a coffee substitute. It has a rich, roasted chocolatey flavor and makes an excellent sub for those trying to kick the coffee or caffeine. It is naturally caffeine-free.
Apart from that, the plant is so pretty when it blooms! It attracts all sorts of pollinators and adds a nice pop of color to the garden. The leaves are edible, and although very bitter when mature, they are very high in nutritional value. A little goes a long way so just add a small amount to a mixed salad. You could also choose to harvest the chicory leaves when young as they are less bitter.
Chicory root is also very healthful! It is really great for the heart, lowing cholesterol and blood pressure, healing digestive issues, helping with weight management, detoxing the body, reducing inflammation in the body, and it is loaded with antioxidants. It's great for the kidneys, boosts the immune system, and eases arthritis. It's totally worth the space in the garden. Good for me AND packed full of deliciousness?? I'm sold! ;) But don't take my word for it.....research for yourself and you'll see how amazing this herb is.
If you decide to grow it, it is best to wait until it's second year to start harvesting bits of the roots. This will allow the plant to fully develop. Common chicory is a biennial herb that thrives in zones 3-9. You often see it growing wild on the side of backcountry roads. You sometimes see it in wild prairie seed mixes. It's super easy to grow and requires minimal if any care at all. We just plant it and leave it all year. We never water it, no pests have destroyed it, we just go out and enjoy it and harvest what we want. It does self-seed pretty easily so if you want it contained then consider it will drop its seeds very quickly.
Tonight, here at Kindred Acres, we are separating seeds for planting and for listing on our Etsy shop. If you are in need of seeds, check back with us as we will have them listed soon!! Come mid to late fall we will harvest parts of the root for roasting. I always get very excited for that time. :)
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