(85 days) Open-pollinated. Round-headed Chioggia-type from Italy. Palla di Fuoco impressed us with its deep burgundy heads with good uniformity. Its name means ‘ball of red fire.’ ②
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Culture: Culture like lettuce; do not allow to dry out. They are mature when heads form in the center. If you try direct-seeding, watch out for voracious flea beetles. Fall crops make the largest heads. Very tolerant of fall frosts down to the 20s.
Wonderful in salads or braised, these radicchios are easy to raise from transplants although they have not yet been refined to absolute uniformity. Occasional plants still bolt unpredictably. The outer leaves are bitter; the edible centers are an acquired taste, retaining some bitterness. The folks at Adaptive Seeds suggest that steeping the leaves in ice water dissolves some of the bitterness.
Even if you don’t like to eat radicchio, consider growing its red heads as ornamentals. Left in the ground over winter, it bolts in spring and blooms with cornflower-blue chicory flowers every morning throughout the summer.
Culture: When to harvest greens? Research from trials conducted in England and Kenya showed looseleaf lettuce, red chard and arugula harvested in the evening had a longer shelf life than when picked in the morning.
For the latest results of our germination tests, please see the germination page.