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Writing about the things I love. My writing work has appeared in hard copy magazines including Green Prints, Twins Magazine, Practical Parenting Magazine, Good Old Days Magazine, The Journal of Court Reporting, and more as well as hundreds of articles in Sunset Hosta Farm's blog and The Homesteading Village blog.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Growing Radicchio - Homesteading 101


aka Red Chicory                                         
Tender perennial grown as an annual

Height  6-12"       Width  6-12"

This bitter Italian heading chicory is a salad favorite for its color alone.  It has gorgeous deep garnet white-based leaves that add rich color and texture to salads.  The heads are small, reaching a size between an orange and a grapefruit.

Types:  Mostly heading types

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Starting Seeds of Radicchio

Seed Depth:                  1/8th" or less.
Seed Spacing:               6" apart.
Germination Temp:        Optimum 70-75 degrees.
Days to Germinate:        7-14.
Days to Harvest:            60-65 or 120-130 days, depending on the variety.
Seed Longevity:             4 years.

Sowing Indoors:

Spring:  8-10 weeks before your average last frost date.
Plant out 4 weeks before your average last frost date.

Sowing Outdoors:

Spring:  Direct Sow 8 weeks before your average last frost date.  
Fall:  Direct Sow mid-summer.

Salad Spinner

Winter Sowing

If you haven't tried winter sowing, you're in for a treat.  This method is especially good for sowing herbs and greens.  Winter sowing is basically sowing seeds in the bottom of a milk jug during the winter, setting the milk jugs outside for the winter and leaving them there until the seeds germinate in Spring.

For a detailed article about Winter Sowing, click here.

Salad Tongs

Growing Radicchio Plants

Growing Temperature:   45-75 degrees.  Light frosts sweeten the flavor.
                                      Can survive into the low 20's.
Plant Spacing:               Space seedlings 6" apart. Mature size 8".
Container Size:              8"+ deep.  Radicchio has shallow roots.
Sun/Shade:                    Mostly sunny.  Likes part shade during the hottest part
                                      of the day.

Soil:                               Can grow in a variety of soils.  Prefers good drainage.
Watering:                       Consistent irrigation for the best flavor.


If fertilizing is necessary, a side dressing of high nitrogen (the first number on the N-P-K scale), lower phosphate (the second number on the N-P-K-scale) is 
recommended when the plant is almost a third of the way through the season.

Salad Lunch Container

Growing Tips

  • If the plant sends up a stalk instead of forming a head, cut off the stalk at ground level to encourage the formation of a new head.
  • The bitter flavor is often due to hot weather.

Harvesting Radicchio

As soon as heads are firm and compact.
Radicchio matures in approximately 3 months.  It should be picked when it's mature, but not old.

Using Radicchio

  • Eat fresh or cook like Spinach.
  • Core out the small heads and remove the center to create leafy bread.
  • Radicchio's bitter flavor pairs well with the acidic sweetness of Balsamic Vinegar.
  • Salt will counteract the bitter flavor and draw out the high sugar content.

Storing Radicchio For Later Use

Although tender green-leafed plants, like lettuce, cannot be preserved well, the thicker green-leafed plants can be.

  • Clean and pat dry.  Bundle stems lightly, place on a paper towel (to absorb moisture) and wrap in a plastic bag.  Keeps in refrigerator for 10 days.

Freezing for Later Use in Chilis, Soups, Sauces, and Casseroles.
  • Steam or saute' leaves, chop them and store in freezer bags.
  • Puree with water and freeze into ice cube trays.
  • Clean and dry the leaves and store in quart size freezer bags.
  • Frozen leaves will keep for 6 months.
  • Blanching the leaves for two minutes will extend freezer storage to 14 months.

To read the other articles in our Growing Your Greens series, click on the name below:

Swiss Chard

Check out our other great gardening articles:  Click Here

Check out our hosta articles:  Click Here

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