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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