Radicchio, or Italian Chicory, is a gourmet type of vegetable. Native to Italy, Radicchio grows best in cool weather. While not as well-known as some vegetables, if gourmet chefs use it, why don’t you? Learn how to grow radicchio with this garden guide. Then, buy some radicchio seeds and try them in your vegetable garden this year.
There are both open leaf and heading varieties. Heading varieties are the most popular. Leaves are maroon or reddish, with white veins. Radicchio heads grow 3-5 inches across.
Italian Chicory is popular in gourmet salads, adding color and taste. It is also eaten raw with a little olive oil. It has a crisp, mildly bitter flavor when it is allowed to mature in cool weather. But, it takes on a strongly bitter taste, if it matures in the hot summer months. Radicchio is also grilled and baked.
Radicchio is grown from seed. Directly sow Radicchio seeds into your vegetable garden early in the season. Or, start indoor transplants four to six weeks before planting outdoors in your garden. Cover seeds lightly with 1/8″ or less of fine garden or seed starting soil. Seeds sprout in 7-14 days.
Final spacing should be eight inches apart in rows two feet apart.
Radicchio is easy to grow. It likes full sun but will tolerate partial shade, especially during the warmest part of the day.
For best results, grow the plants, quickly during cool weather, in moist, fertile soil.
The soil should be light, sandy loam, and rich. It also should drain well.
Mix compost into the soil, before planting. Add fertilizer when planting.
Garden Tip: Infrequent watering will produce a bitter-tasting leaf. Water frequently, but not deeply. The goal is to keep the soil moist, not wet.
Weed around plants frequently, during their early growth.
Plants thrive in cool weather. Plant crops for spring and fall. For a continuous harvest during this period, plant succession crops.
Ideal Soil pH: 7.5 – 8.0
Soil Temperatures – Ideal germination temperature by vegetable
Ideal Soil pH – by vegetable
Insect and disease problems are uncommon with this plant. Insects do not like the bitter taste of the Italian Chicory plant.
Days to harvest: 80 – 100 days for most Italian Chicory varieties.
Pick young, tender leaves. Larger leaves get tough and too bitter tasting. Leaves can also taste bitter in warmer weather. Eat fresh or cooked like spinach.
Radicchio plants withstand light frosts.