Radicchio, Palla Rossa Melot (Organic)
Cichorium intybus. Round heading type. 70 days.
After extensive trialing, Palla Rossa Melot is the best open pollinated classic Palla Rossa radicchio we have found. Large, dense round heads of bright red and white leaves have a mild flavor and make a festive addition to the plate. Quicker to head up than many other varieties means you can plant a bit late and still have good results. Best for early fall through early winter harvest. Other sources indicate this variety is not winter hardy but we have found the opposite to be true – heads overwinter in our field just fine with lows around 25˚F. Even after several deep freezes, once the outer leaves are removed, the inner leaves remain well-protected. Just make sure to eat them before the voles do. This selection is originally from Italian seed company, Franchi Seeds, and we are continuing to select it for good head formation and consistent red and white coloration.
Sow indoors with good potting soil February through September. Transplant into the garden 3-4 weeks after sprouting. In our area, chicory can grow through the winter without protection but is best when sown in June or July for this purpose. Alternatively, direct sow March through August.
Collect seeds from 10 or more plants in second year when seeds have dried down. Cut whole plants, place on tarp, then dance and stomp to free the seed. Or place dry plants on tarps and drive on them. Screen and winnow to clean. Isolate from other Cichorium sp. by ½ mile.