The speed of this crop is truly exciting. In about three weeks the soil will be dotted with tiny white pinpricks. These herald the arrival of the first "flush." In less than a week these little white specks will have become fullgrown mushrooms. Flushes continue to come intermittently for several months.
Forcing witloof chicory to make those delectable little stalks prized by gourmets and known as "French endive" in fancy markets is none too big a job for the youngest teen-ager. The plants are easy to grow in his garden from an early spring sowing of seed. In late fall roots are dug and stored in sand, where they won't freeze, until wanted for forcing.
At this time roots are trimmed to a uniform six or eight inches. They are planted in a box of sand, peatmoss or soil and covered with six or eight inches of this material. The box should be kept in a dark place in the cellar where the temperature range is somewhere between 45° and 60° F. Planting must be watered thoroughly, and kept moist at all times. In two or three weeks tight little blanched heads will start pushing up. When four or five inches high they are ready to cut.
An ambitious youngster could have a window greenhouse in a cellar window. Any child handy with tools could build one. It should be on the sunny side of the house, and can be just a wooden frame built to fit around the outside of a sunken window well, sloping down to almost ground level in front. The top is covered with a tightly fitting storm window, windowsash or home-made plastic frame. The outside will look like a small coldframe. But if the cellar window is removed the window-well space becomes a little semi-greenhouse, getting heat from the cellar as well as from the sun. In such an atmosphere any number of potted plants of greenhouse temperament can be grown, as well as bulbs and seedlings for the spring garden.
OUT IN THE KITCHEN
Generations of children have been entertained by the quick spectacle of the really decorative foliage that can easily be coaxed out of the vegetables and fruits that are in every kitchen.
Most of the root crops-carrots, beets, turnips, rutabagas, parsnips, horseradish-and also witloof chicory and celery- send up surprisingly attractive foliage in no time at all when planted in moist sand, soil, peatmoss, pebbles and water, or just plain water. The bottom of the root is cut off to leave a flat-bottomed inch or so of the vegetable. Old top leaves are trimmed off.
A carrot can also be made into a sort of hanging basket by removing some of the center core from the tail end, to form a little well.