Radishes growing in my front yard raised bed

Introducing the radish. Yes, you’ve met before… but perhaps it’s time to become better acquainted.

Radishes are one of two plants that come highly recommended for beginning gardeners – because they’re so easy to grow. It seems like the seeds all germinate, and come up something like one or two days after one starts watering them. The young leaves are very recognizable once you’ve grown them before. Then, in less than a month (instant gratification in garden-time), you’ve got something edible and even familiar-looking.

(In case you’re wondering the other highly-recommended beginner crop I have in mind is the cherry tomato – easy, more-or-less-pest-free, prolific, and great tasting.)

I confess that (shhhh! don’t let the radishes hear this) I use radishes in my indecisive/tenative/temporary garden spots. The places where I am thinking that I may really plant something more monumental like corn, tomatoes or artichokes, but I am not sure right now… so let’s put some radishes in and then decide later… ’cause the radishes will be done soon anyways. This is especially good in L.A. in the late fall and all winter – but it’s still a good time to plant them right now (in my area, they can be planted nearly all year, but probably best September through May.) If you want to plant those tomatoes while the radishes are still in the ground, no problem – you’re going to pull those radishes really soon, anyways.

If you plant a lot of radishes, you’ll want to thin them to at least an inch or so between them (do as I say, not as I have pictured above.) If two grow right next to each other, they’ll probably both be puny. When you thin, use the young plants in salads – leaves and all. One good delicacy is to sautee your young radishes, with leaves attached – usually before the leaves get too hairy/prickly. Plant radishes today – lots – as in 3 dozen. In 2-3 weeks, before they’re really mature, but after they’ve formed a smallish root-bulb, pull most of them, and cook them like one does chard, kale or mustard – maybe 3-5 minutes over medium-high heat, with a little olive oil. Add a little onion and/or garlic first if you like.

Botanical Interests French Breakfast Radish seed pack

My recent favorite is the “French Breakfast” variety (which I usually get from Botanical Interests seeds.) They’re really mild. The basic model can get slightly spicy if not watered thoroughly (or when I wait too long to harvest), but the French Breakfast ones don’t seem to get spicy in a hurry. I also use the Easter Egg Blend (also available from Botanical Interests – I promise I am not getting a kick-back from them!) – the multi-colors look good sauteed.

One of yesterday's radish harvest

Yesterday I pulled four of my month-old French Breakfast radishes, minced them and put them atop a garden salad (featuring garden broccoli and other garden-harvested greens: lettuce, mizuna, endive, etc.) for eco-village’s Sunday community dinner. The red and white radish adds good red color to the otherwise all-green winter and early spring salads. I topped with oil, vinegar and some of my favorite dry Mexican cheese… and was really happy when Randy complimented me saying “you always bring really good salads.”

Somewhat blurry shot of the salads - was rushing to get them done and over to the potluck.

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