Radicchio is a vegetable that is both rather common and very uncommon all at the same time. We’re used to seeing the red and white thick leaves in our salad mixes and occasionally whole heads in the produce section. Growing radicchio is something else all together. It’s not very common to see radicchio grown in a garden in Kansas. One reason is that it likes cool to cold weather and a long growing season. It can be a challenge to grow here, because we can end up with weather in the winter that is just too cold for it to survive. We grew a couple plants two years ago and they did make it through the winter until March. I’m not sure what happened then.
This year, I had some seeds kicking around and so I planted a row in one of my fall garden trials. Silly me, I planted it between the Kale and the Swiss Chard. The poor radicchio grows so slowly that it was getting shaded out.
Of course, I also planted everything just a little too close together. That slightly empty space between the gangly kale on the left and the Swiss chard on the right is where the radicchio was originally planted. The radicchio really had no chance. I thought that thinning out the kale would make things better, but it really didn’t. The kale could really use some nice cold weather to toughen it up a little bit.
Anyway, we pulled the last of the cantaloupe vines out today, since they were pretty much dead. With all that extra space, I decided to dig up the row of radicchio and transplant it into the melon space. This allowed me to space it out more appropriately too.
It is pretty tender and floppy, since it was shaded and given the opportunity to get too leggy. It really looks like lettuce right now. In fact, I think that can be confusing if you’ve never grown it before. It doesn’t develop the characteristic red color or start getting thicker leaves until it gets much cooler and the plant is more developed. Hopefully with a little more exposure to sun, wind, and cooler temperatures (maybe), these plants will start to look a little bit better.