If you are not intimate with a lovely vegetable, it’s time to become familiar with it. Radicchios are the prettiest among vegetables. They have many different forms and also come in variant colors.
Growing radicchios at home are worth growing because they are very costly if you buy them from supermarkets. Radicchio is past times chicory with wine-red leaves and a white center.
From its appearance, it looks like cabbage but actually, it is not. It has a sour taste that adds a pervasive touch to your food. They can be grown in any weather but cool weather makes them a little sweet. Moreover growing radicchios is similar to growing cabbage.
Radicchio or red chicory makes a delightful addition to your garden as well as to your dining table. This vegetable is used in Italy on a large scale in various types of dishes. And its 15 different varieties are known there. Radicchio is a past times chickpea, it is a winter tolerant vegetable which makes it more preferable, and it is thought to be like cabbage but the reality is different.
As a matter of fact, radicchios and cabbage have common growing habits. The fruits are small; at maximum, they attain the size of orange or grapefruit. Many people relate it to a hot environment but in fact, it is a winter-tolerant vegetable.
Radicchio is among those vegetables that are equally grown in gardens as well as in pots if you maintain the essential conditions required by them. As pot-grown things require more attention than the ones growing in-ground.
Radicchios basically need full sun to partial shade. If you grow them in pots then make sure that on a full sunny day you drag your pot in a partial shade because the direct hot rays may damage the crop.
Radicchios are susceptible to heat, so make sure you provide them with proper protection against it. The growth becomes stunted or the plant will produce harvest prematurely if the temperature exceeds 75 Fahrenheit.
Radicchios also require moist soil. Because drought can result in bitterness of crop as well as it affects the growth rate. Although they can survive in a variety of soils a loamy fertile soil is best for their growth.
Best Varieties of Radicchio to Grow In Pots:
Radicchios are mainly classified into two groups:
Few reds only alter their color in the winter season. And without whitening, because of photosynthesis few red varieties turn browner before harvest.
Chioggia is a typical type that you commonly see in grocery stores. It has purple colored cabbage head and a very strong aroma with a delightful taste. Farmers grow it all year round, so it’s easy to locate and is a better option if you are just starting to enjoy the radicchio. Cultivation involves Pala Rosa and Rosa di Veron
This type has a mild flavor and looks large like chicory escarole. The leaves are tall and sharp with deep red colors. The leaves are fully compact and narrow which gives them a football-like look. The strapping narrow plant leaves are made for spading up sauces.
Treviso Tardivo it is one of those varieties that have long growth periods that build up their taste profile. Enlarged development also helps to nourish the structure. It is a very charming type.
Chefs prefer this type because of some reasons like it never alters its shape and color while cooking. It has a rose-like center and apparently looks like lettuce which adds to the decor of your garden.
This type has creamy white leaves with red dots rather than deep red color. It is a bitter green type, but if you prepared it with the right skills in a proper way it’s more than a treat. Creamy white color leaves have deep red speckles and delightfully soft bites.
Puntarelle is a difficult one to locate, but it is worth growing. The plant looks like a bunch of fennel, topped with asparagus stems. This Variety needs to be lightening for better taste.
Grow Radicchio In Pots:
- Radicchio seeds or roots
Radicchio grows well in containers as long as you have a suitable container with good quality potting mix. Use a large pot that is at least 8-inches deep and has a proper draining system.
Frequently water your plants because containers tend to dry out faster than the ground. One of the amazing things about growing radicchios in pots is that you can easily move them around when it is hot outside.
While growing radicchios place them at the proper distance, by doing this you ensure the proper airflow between plants as well as minimize the chances of diseases.
But do not place them too far, as growing them at a considerable distance will help in the development of the proper shape of heads.
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Mix organic matter into the soil and fill the pot. The mixing of organic matter ensures the presence of essential nutrients in the soil. Moreover, organic matter helps to improve the moisture-retaining ability of soil. As radicchios have a shallow root system so they need consistent moisture.
Radicchios can be easily grown from seeds equally from transplants.
Plant radicchio seeds in biodegradable containers. Spread the seeds in a pot and then cover with compost. It’s all right if you place more seeds than the size of the pot as the seedling will be thin when grown.
Seed germination mainly depends on the Variety, but usually, they germinate within 7-14 days. Some gardeners start radicchio seeds indoors for later transplanting outside.
From radicchio roots:
Cut roots a little above the growing point like at least 1cm above it. If roots have lateral branches thin them. The size of the roots should be according to the container if it is larger than your container cut some lower parts.
Fill the containers with potting soil place the roots into the container and press slightly the surrounding soil so the roots are firmly fixed into the soil. Roots should be placed at a proper distance in pots.
Place the container in a dark dry area and water your soil to make it moist. Regularly check your watering; you will see that they start growing within a week or two.
Thin The Seedling:
The radicchio seeds will germinate within seven days. When seedlings are growing about one inch in length thin them to maintain the distance between them. They should be a minimum of eight to ten inches apart from each other. Use a pair of scissors to cut the extra seedlings.
Regularly water your plants. Because to thrive well they need a sufficient amount of moisture otherwise if there is a lack of moisture the leaves become tough and bitter.
Mulch is also proving very helpful in this regard; it also holds a considerable amount of moisture around the roots of plants. Prevent weeds as they give tough competition to plants in sense of nutrients and moisture.
Use of Fertilizers:
If you want that your plants grow well provide them an adequate amount of fertilizers as their excess can damage the plants. Mix organic manure into the soil and fill half of the pot before placing radicchio seedlings to boost their nutrition.
Avoid using too many nitrogen fertilizers because it can cause the plant to bolt, moreover excess nitrogen also increases bitterness.
Be sure to keep the herbs stay away from your plants, as they cause harm to plants in many ways. The best way to control them is the use of organic mulch.
Companion Plants for Radicchio:
It may prove beneficial of growing radicchios with their companion plants. Like companion plants provide necessary shade and also loosen the soil, for radicchios. Instead of this companion plants help in many ways like they keep it moist, keep away pests, attract pollinators, and can also improve the flavor of your radicchio.
Be attentive while selecting companion plants for radicchios because some are more harmful than beneficial.
Good companion plants for radicchio are carrots, beets, strawberries, lettuce, onions, radishes, mustard greens, and cucumbers.
Bad companion for radicchio:
Avoid planting radicchios next to endives, beans, peas, and escaroles. Because they may attract insects as well as also cause water deficiency to radicchio plants.
The way of harvesting mainly depends on the type you grow. Redheads get mature within 65 days after planting, if their heads are hard to touch it is a sign that they become able to harvest. If you leave the crop after its maturity it becomes bitterer in taste. So it is best to harvest as soon as it is ripe.
To cut the heads, cut the whole plant above the soil line. Be protective while cutting because when it is in the right way you can expect another crop at the end of the year, like a cut from the right side then-new head will produce on another side. It totally depends on you at which stage you are going to pick your crop.
People’s choices vary regarding its harvesting, some want it to be as big as a stone or grapefruit, while others like it to be young and soft. The leaves of the radicchio can be taken off any time, so it’s a great alternative to lettuce in a salad.
Preservation of Radicchio for Later Uses:
Radicchios can be preserved in a cold place like your refrigerator or vegetable drawer. Pack them in a plastic or perforated bag. It will last for at least a week (and oftentimes longer) this way.
Uses of Radicchio:
Radicchios can be used for various purposes like:
- They can be used raw or cooked, using either individual leaves or the entire head. Serving leaves with salt restrains the bitter flavor and strings out the flavor of the high sugar content.
- Leaves can be used individually as a side dish by tossing them with olive oil and salt .they also used with milder lettuces and greens for a fresh salad.
- Bake or grill pieces of radicchio until its edges turn brown. You can even griddle whole heads and roast them on a spit. You can also fry individual leaves by treating them with flour. They are also considering adding color to pasta, soups, legumes, rice dishes, or omelets.
- Raw or cooked, the bitter flavor pairs well with the acidic sweetness of balsamic vinegar. Other great flavor partners include butter, prosciutto, Italian cheeses, lemon, salami, and fresh shell beans. They make a great substitute for endive in recipes.