Mountain Valley Views is the quarterly newsletter for Mountain Valley Growers.


A plant to know: radicchio

Radicchio (pronounced ra-DEE-kee-o) has evolved into one of today's tastiest gourmet greens. A member of the Cichorium genus, Radicchio is a specific variety of Cichorium intybus which also contains the herb commonly known as Chicory. While it is technically a perennial, it is most often grown as an annual.

Wild red Radicchios -- or, as they are sometimes called, red chicories -- are challenging to grow because consistency in color and head formation is a problem. Our Indigo Radicchio is an F1 hybrid with more consistently uniform, medium-large heads and a beautiful burgundy color. Indigo is a reliable Radicchio in hot and cool weather and is very tolerant to tipburn as well as being resistant to bottom rot.

Pictured above is one of our seedlings ready for shipping and for planting in the garden. Radicchio should be transplanted into the garden in early spring for summer harvest and again in mid to late summer for early winter harvest. Space plants about 8 inches apart. Seedlings take about 6 to 8 weeks before they are ready to harvest. When heads reach the size of a grapefruit, they are ready to harvest. It is important to pick the heads before they start to elongate or push up in the middle. This is a sign that the plant is past its prime.

Radicchio prefers a soil that is well drained and fertile with a pH in the 5.5 to 7 range. Plants need at least 6 hours of sun a day and may benefit from afternoon shade in really hot summer areas. Because they are shallow-rooted plants, adequate moisture is a must. Stress on the plant will cause it to bolt, discolor, become more bitter, or all three.

Radicchio is relatively new in the markets in this country. Traditionally eaten raw with a bit of olive oil and salt, grilling or roasting enhances its sweetness, which makes it more acceptable to some tastes. While it is on the grill or in the oven, drizzle with balsamic vinegar or lemon juice and top with a little of your favorite cheese (we like it with blue cheese). Radicchio will soon become a favorite in your garden as you endeavor to grow enough of it for your table.

To order Radicchio or any of our organic veggies please use this link.

Have you planned your vegetable garden yet? Lined up those herbs for those patio planters? Picked out the flowers that will attract butterflies and add color to your landscape? Latch on to our awesome list and fill your garden with the best organic plants on the planet. Just click the photo above (or use this link) to see all the organic veggies, herbs and flowers we are growing this year. Vegetable seedlings have become increasingly popular and supplies do run out. Ordering early puts your order in line and helps us plant what is needed for spring.

Early spring orders to cold winter areas may be placed at anytime and will receive an email order acknowledgment indicating the expected spring ship date. We do not ship with a guarantee to areas that are freezing or on a route that has freezing temperatures. You may choose to waive your guarantee and receive plants prior to the time we would normally start shipping in spring. To do this, type Waive Warranty in the comment box on the order form and make sure to check the in stock link for what is currently available.

Germination Station for all your early seedling starts!

Seeds need to be a certain temperature to germinate. If you plant seeds indoors and they don't come up within 3 to 7 days, there is a good chance that the soil is too cold for the plant to sprout properly. Usually what happens in this situation is that you wait and wait and finally a few seeds sprout, only to lie over on the ground and die. This is called damping off disease and basically occurs when the seedling is too wet and cold to continue growing. This adverse condition allows fungus and root rot to invade the tiny newborn and it really never has a chance.

When seeds sprout at temperatures more like what they would sprout at in nature, they are stronger and can fend off disease better. To test this theory, sprout basil seeds in the house over winter and then sprout them outside during spring when temperatures are in the 70s. Those seeds planted outside at the proper time will sprout within 3 to 5 days and take off growing. Those in the house may not even sprout. This is where a SEEDLING MAT really can make a difference. It can increase the warmth of the root zone area by 10-20 degrees more than ambient room temperature. That increase can be just enough to get things really growing well. We offer a single-wide seedling mat (pictured on the right) in our Germination Station or a double-wide seedling mat sold separately.

Rapid Rooter Plug Trays
Seedling Heat Mat
For more information or to order our seed starter aids use this link.

Rare Lavender Mint

Rare Lavender Mint is one of the red-stemmed mints like Peppermint. It has wonderful floral overtones that add a luscious touch to any cup of tea. Red-stemmed mints or Mentha piperitas can be used fresh but are more often used dried. We have had a few chefs tell us they prefer this variety to other Mentha piperitas.

Like all mints, Lavender  Mint should be confined to a pot. it is always wisest to grow each mint in its own pot so they do not over take and destroy one another. Mints grow better in pots with lots of surface area rather than lots of depth. Our 20 inch Oval Planter makes a great mint pot, at least for the first year. After that, your mint will need to be divided and repotted with fresh soil each spring.

Mountain Valley Views is the online gardening newsletter for Mountain Valley Growers. All rights are reserved.