*This seed is offered as part of the "Gusto Italiano Project", a collaborative partnership between Uprising Seeds, Italian breeders Smarties.Bio, and the Culinary Breeding Network. Certified organic seed is grown in Italy by Smarties.Bio.
Variety: "Santa Helena"
Type: Rosso di Chioggia
Days to Maturity (slot): 110 days (mid/late)
The most common and best known radicchio type, Rosso di Chioggia is the public face of the radicchio for much of the world, but perhaps suprisingly, is a relatively recent introduction, dating back only to the 1930-1950s when it was bred from the Variegato di Castelfranco type. Rosso di Chioggia looks like a miniature wine-red cabbage, dense and round. What perhaps best differentiates it from the other red heading types is that rather than having a thick central white midrib, leaves have a radiating, dispersed , and much thinner rib that is more integrated into the texture of the leaf. Plants are unfussy and have been developed into a wide spectrum of very uniform days-to-maturity cycles or "slots". Chioggia can be more forgiving than some, but with all radicchio, be especially mindful of your planting dates as a successful crop requires a MUCH narrower planting window than most garden vegetables.
Chioggia is a seaside town just to the south of Venice whose old town shares much of its more famous northern neighbor's setting of narrow streets and canals. The agricultural area radiates east, and while Rosso di Chioggia is grown all over he world, the IGP label is limited to producers in the the area between Chioggia and Rosolina. It is a shame that the type became the introduction for many Americans to the radicchio family through the ubiquitous baby salad mixes from California of the 90's and 2000's that invariably had shredded Chioggia leaves mixed in for color. Chioggia is often considered a type for cooking rather than eating raw in Italy on account of being further toward the bitter end of the radicchio spectrum than many of the fresh salad types, and consequently turned off many American palates through its assertiveness in raw form. It truly shines as grilled wedges with a fat like cheese or nuts and a sweet element like balsamic vinegar, pomegranate molasses, pears, or figs.
About the named varieties... For most vegetables, in order to provide a continuous harvest over a long period of time, growers stagger planting dates throughout the season which in turn provides a continuous harvest as the plants mature to eating stage. With radicchio, a different strategy is employed. For the most part, the majority of heading radicchio is best suited to seeding around the summer solstice (transplanting in the second-third week of July). To achieve a longer harvest period, rather than staggering planting dates, breeders have developed different varieties within a type with different days-to-maturity harvests. These are often referred to as "slots" with many types having early, mid, and late slotted varieties.
110 days from transplant
Packet: 100 seeds