For the past month or so, Becky Sideman has been growing radicchio. “My basement has this adorable little garden full of radicchio that are growing in it,” said Sideman. The setup is nothing fancy, mostly 1-gallon nursery pots sitting on boards supported by 5-gallon buckets, a foot off her basement’s gravel floor. The pots are deep, about 6 inches across, and each one holds three or four roots repotted from her garden. Every few days she waters them and then leaves them to grow. In the dark.
“In Italian, the word is ‘imbianchimento,’ which means ‘whitening,’” said Jason Salvo, owner of Local Roots Farm in Duvall, Washington—thousands of miles from radicchio’s original home in northern Italy but with a similar climate. Salvo and his wife, Siri Erickson‑Brown, have been growing radicchio there for about 15 years. “Except that’s not really what happens; they don’t turn white, so I think the accurate word would be ‘forcing.’”