Last year, I selected my favorite Italian Dandelion plants from our market planting. I chose them based on the level of leaf serration, the red stem and green leaf contrast, and vigour.
In fact, I’d actually been eliminating whatever I didn’t like all season long. Whatever was too green, too round leafed, or too marked by disease would get it’s growing tip cut off by the harvest knife as I made bunches for market.
By the end of the season, I was left with a bunch of plants that looked like what I thought Italian Dandelion’s should look like.
(Do note that Italian Dandelions are different from the garden weeds Taraxacum officinale. Italian Dandelions are actually Cichorium intybus – the chicory species that includes such delicious bitter greens like Radicchio.)
In the fall, we dug up the roots, trimmed the leaves, and planted them in potting soil in Rubbermaid bins. We stored these bins over the winter in our cold room.
By spring, the roots were starting to sprout blanched leaved in the bins.
I took them out to inspect them. All the roots had survived.
We went out to the field and planted away!
We planted them one row per bed and one foot spacing per bed. These plants are going to get big.
While we were at it, we also planted out a bunch of different turnips. We’ll let these cross up to create a crazy population that we can select from.