Saturday, November 26, 2011

Rule #4: Start your radicchio seed in July

In the Maryland area that is!  This radicchio is actually for harvesting in the fall/winter season.  There are some bolt resistant and fast growing radicchio you can grow in early spring.  You can also have cutting radicchio/radicchio da taglio throughout the summer.  Any radicchio seed could also be planted when you choose if you just want to eat them as "babies" and not let them get full grown. Now there is a lot of controversy about when during the month to plant.  I have looked up several sites on growing with the moon and it says to sow seeds with the new moon.  This doesn't always seem to follow what "the Italians" (how I will refer to my moms Italian friends who have been growing radicchio in this area for years!) tell me.  Usually I just plant when they do and if I miss that window I plant with the new moon.  So my seeds were planted on July 18th.  This was just after the full moon.   It seemed to work just fine.  After planting you must keep the seeds moist, but not over watered.  For me I go out and mist them several times a day and for the first few days I cover them with some burlap. This must be taken off after a few days as the seedlings emerge.  I found a wonderful company called Seeds from Italy and their website is in my links section.  Most of their seeds are from the Franchi seed company.  So this year I started the seeds in my far right bed which still had one tomato plant and other low growing plants in the middle of the bed.  This is where I had a little trouble.  The front of the bed seemed to have gotten more sun than the back because of the tomato plant.  So in the front I planted Pan di Zuccchero, Verona, Castlefranco, Treviso, Grumolo, and Bianca di Bergamo.  These came up great and hardy.  The only one that didn't come up was the Bianca di Bergamo, probably because their seed date was older than the rest. I will need to get new seeds next season.  In the back of the bed I planted Treviso Tardiva, Lusia, Puntarelle, and two varieties of Endive-Riccia Ruffec and Bionda a cure piano.  I also planted some fairly old seeds from my dad that were a strange looking variety.  I seems that they are grown for their stems, but as I expected they did not germinate.  Although these back of the bed seeds did come up they weren't as strong as the front of the bed seeds.  Once I took the tomato plant out at the end of it's season they got stronger.  Lesson learned for next year. This is the first of many future posts on my my trials with radicchio this year.  I am trying many new techniques to "finish off" the radicchio this year including blanching and forcing.  More on that later!

Baby Radicchio
Just a few days old

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