Sow your seeds from June to July; they can be sown directly or in modules for the best results. Avoid sowing too early. Sow seeds in rows around 30 cm apart, placing seeds every 5 cm and later thinning to achieve a 30 cm spacing. Consume the thinned plants; they may be small, but they are delicious. Sow 3 seeds per module and thin to 1 per module when they are large enough.
Ensure your seed bed is free from weeds. Sheltered, sunny sites are best, but they will tolerate some shade and can be grown between taller plants. Plant your seedlings in rows approximately 30 cm apart. Ensure plants are spaced 30 cm apart in the row, water well, and mulch around them without touching.
Keep the area weed-free and watered during hot spells. The lack of water can make them more bitter. Mulch around the plants to retain moisture and prevent weeds. If your variety requires forcing/blanching, cover it for 2 weeks before harvest. For winter forcing varieties, this can be done in November. Dig up dormant roots, store them in sand, bring them indoors, and plant in pots with buckets over the top to force pale yellow sprouts for winter harvests.
Protect plants from slugs and snails, as they prefer direct-sown seedlings. Avoid watering in the evening, as this encourages overnight slugs and snails. Encourage predators such as ground beetles, lizards, slow worms, and, if you’re lucky, hedgehogs into your growing space by creating suitable wildlife habitats.
From seed, they take around 4 months to fully grow, but younger plants can be harvested to thin out the rows. Some radicchio can be regularly harvested on a cut-and-come-again basis, while others will be harvested all at once as a head.
There are many culinary uses for chicory and radicchio. The leaves of most varieties can be added raw to salads. They can also be cooked by sautéing or grilling. The bitter flavors of chicory are well matched to strong flavors such as walnuts and blue cheese.
Select at least 10 good plants to save seeds from. Allow these plants to flower and wait for the seeds to ripen. Keep a close eye on them; the seeds are ready when the heads turn brown, and you can see clusters of seeds inside. You can either harvest individual seed heads or the whole plant when 60-70% of the seeds are ripe. Leave the plants to dry for a couple of weeks before shaking off the ripe seeds. Store them in a cool, dry place for up to five years.
Chicory – Pain De Sucre (Organic)£1.60 Add to basket
Chicory – Pain De Sucre (Organic)
Mild tasting green leaves that form dense, conical heads; alternative to winter lettuce.. This is a more mild tasting chicory that is a superb substitute for lettuce in the winter. Indeed, this is a common practice in several rural parts of France and no doubt elsewhere, too. It can produce very large heads, with a tender green exterior and golden yellow hearts that have a real sweetness to them, hence the name!
(Approximate seed count – 500)£1.60
Chicory – Radicchio Treviso Early (SM4.10) (Organic)£2.20 – £6.72 Add to basket
Chicory – Radicchio Treviso Early (SM4.10) (Organic)
A mid-early Treviso-type radicchio ideal for both salads and cooking (similar in growth cycle to 206TT). Treviso is one of the main centres of radicchio production in Italy.
This variety produces dense elongated heads, of striking deep red and white appearance which can be harvested from autumn.
The leaves make a wonderful addition to raw salads as they are sweeter than some red headed radicchio types. The heads are equally tasty grilled or sautéed as is commonplace in Italy.£2.20 – £6.72
Chicory – Radicchio Castelfranco (SM4.18) (Organic)£2.50 – £8.40 Add to basket
Chicory – Radicchio Castelfranco (SM4.18) (Organic)
Stunning extra early radicchio best suited for raw salads.
Castelfranco radicchio varieties are considered the queen of salad leaves. Their exquisite beauty will add something very special to your salad bowl, and their flavour is much sweeter than other radicchio types.
The plants begin with broad open green leaves, developing a central head as they mature. The inner leaves take on a pale yellow colour with beautiful burgundy speckles.
Sometimes know as “Tulip of Winter” as the heads are opened up to display their full glory in the produce markets of Italy.£2.50 – £8.40
Chicory – Radicchio ‘506 TT’ (Organic)£2.45 – £5.50 Add to basket
Chicory – Radicchio ‘506 TT’ (Organic)
Fantastic modern Palla Rossa type radicchio forming large round heads.
This is a wonderful new Radicchio variety much celebrated by market gardeners due to the high consistency of its heads which can be harvested from September until December. The leaves can be eaten raw as a delicious addition to winter salads, or they can be sliced and baked with olive oil and balsamic. (Other recipes are available too)
(Approximate seed count – 150)£2.45 – £5.50
Chicory – Catalogna Gigante di Chioggia (SM4.32) (Organic)£2.20 Add to basket
Chicory – Catalogna Gigante di Chioggia (SM4.32) (Organic)
Leaf chicory best used as a delicious sautéing green. Catalogna Gigante di Chioggia – also known as dandelion greens – is an open leaf chicory type which is similar to wild chicory.
The leaves make some of the best sautéing greens around, sweet with a slight bitter edge. They can be blanched in salty water to remove some of the bitterness if desired. Drain and fry up with garlic and chilli for a truly delicious side dish.
More forgiving to grow than some other chicory/radicchio types.
(Approximate seed count – 100)£2.20
Chicory – Puntarelle (SM4.33) (Organic)£2.70 – £8.40 Add to basket
Chicory – Puntarelle (SM4.33) (Organic)
An interesting chicory variety grown for its hollow bolting shoots.
Unlike other chicory varieties which are grown for their leaves, Puntarelle is grown for its flowering shoots. The young shoots form a ‘head’ at the base of plant and are julienned into thin strips which are then soaked in cold water to removed some of their bitterness. In the water they twist and curl into elegant crisp and crunchy shapes which are then served with a punchy dressing to make a lovely late autumn salad.
Shoots usually appear between mid-October and November.£2.70 – £8.40
Chicory – Radicchio Treviso Late (SM4.75 – Forcing) (Organic)£2.50 Add to basket
Chicory – Radicchio Treviso Late (SM4.75 – Forcing) (Organic)
A forcing chicory from Treviso for delicious winter eating. This variety of chicory has been bred for forcing through the winter months (Tardivo means late in Italian), and produces totally delicious ‘chicons’
To force chicory the plants should be left untouched in the field until winter time. When you wish to force them, pull up however many plants you need and replant the roots into a moist medium such as sand or spent compost. The plants then need to kept in total darkness for a few weeks and then beautiful chicons will grow from the roots.
They are generally eaten cooked in pastas and other dishes and were the first Italian vegetable to gain IGP, a European protected status for special food products specific to a place of origin.
(Approximate seed count – 100)£2.50
Chicory – Radicchio Rosa ‘Jolanda’ (Organic)£2.20 Add to basket
Chicory – Radicchio Rosa ‘Jolanda’ (Organic)
A beautiful and early salmon-pink radicchio variety forming loose heads from October. This one is a real show-stopper! A really unique radicchio making the most exquisitely pink leaves unlike no other leafy veg we have grown before.
‘Jolanda’ is an early selection of Rosa (which often tends to be a later-cropping type) so it’s much better suited to the UK climate.
Bred by our friends and plant breeding wizards at Smarties.bio in Italy. (Approximate seed count – 100)£2.20