Chicories come in many many shapes, sizes and colours, so there is absolutely no excuse for boring salads if you grow these. Amongst my favourites are the red / variegated types known as Radicchio. Apart from being good salad ingredients, they can be highly decorative too, especially since they mature in mid- to late-Autumn, when the garden can look fairly sparse and drab.
For want of space, I'm growing most of my chicories as underplantings beneath my Winter brassicas.
As the days get shorter and cooler, the colour of the plants turns redder, and the hitherto rather loose plants begin to form tight heads, a bit like a small cabbage. Here's a picture of one that's ready for eating - unfortunately not one I grew myself, but one which we bought at our local Farmers' Market:
Isn't that a wonderful specimen? Mine have some way to go before they can match that sort of size and quality!
Having grown it before I know what Firestorm looks like, but I'm not sure about Palla Rossa. In the catalogue you only see the end result - the inner ball-shaped head of the plant, without the untidy outer leaves. I sowed the seeds separately in neatly-labelled trays, but once the seedlings were planted out I lost track of which was which. I think this next photo is of Palla Rossa, but I wouldn't stake my life on it:
|"Palla Rossa" - maybe?|
However, to confuse things even further I have some other varieties from the mixed pack, and what these are is anyone's guess.
So, for me, positive ID is not possible - but who cares? I'm sure they will all be nice. Maybe next time I should put in a plant label next to each one? (Seems like too much trouble if you ask me...)
Growing chicories is really easy by the way - much like lettuces in fact, though usually slower. They mature in about 3 - 4 months from sowing, and do best if sown in Summer for Autumn cropping. For space reasons (lack of) I don't sow mine in-situ. I sow them in seed-trays for planting out once they are a few inches tall.