Published January 2005

It’s been a tough winter so far with up to 20 inches of snow that’s luckily melted off now.  I was trapped in my house for about 24 hours before I could find someone to plow my driveway, and that 24 hours gave me plenty of time to start thinking about my spring garden endeavers.  For some reason, my  thoughts turned more than once to radishes, a plant that few people in this area seem to plant.  I plant them yearly, and do so for several reasons.

One reason is that they’re almost foolproof, a tough little plant that seems to handle cold weather, even snow, and sprouts nicely as soon as the season turns just a bit warm.  I’ve planted radishes in late March before and enjoyed eating them in early May because they’re fast growing and add plenty to the first crop of early lettuce.

Last spring I planted Cherry Belle, a crisp and tasty type that reaches maturity  in only 24 days!  It’s got to be one of the fastest garden vegetables around.  Readers who agree with my radish thoughts might like to try Cherriette from Harris Seeds, which matures even quicker, in 20 days.

An old friend of mine never fails to plant Icicle, a long stemmed white radish that, when planted early, is mild and tasty.  He fertilizes well, and the plants produce straight roots of 4-5 inches.  “I pull and wash a few,” he said, “then scrape off the skin which can be too spicy.  Finally, I slice them lengthwise into several pieces, put the pieces on buttered bread, and eat just that way.  They’re really good.”

Readers who are giving thought to becoming real radish afficionados will find the sky’s the limit come spring.  Take a look through seed catalogs, and you’ll not only find white radishes and the nice little red ones, but many others.  Like the German Giant.  Germans love radishes.  This one can be eaten from quarter size up to that of a baseball, and will remain crisp, mild, and high quality.

Then there’s the German beer radish.  Again, Germans love their radishes and this one is so popular that it’s often served in bierstubes.  It’s peeled, dipped in salt or vegetable dip and served with king-sized pretzels and a quart or two of foaming beer.  I can personally testify that the combination is excellent, since I’ve nibbled it from Munich to the North Sea.

The Spanish like radishes too, especially the Round Black Spanish which can be up to four inches in diameter, has a black skin and white, pungent flesh.  Plant this one in mid-summer for a fall harvest.  The Chinese have their China Rose radish, a large bulb that grows partly above the ground, and the Japanese have some whoppers ranging from the April Cross Daikon Radish to some that a youngster could barely lift.  Lots of choices, lots of flavors, and quick, good eating.  Reason enough to plant radishes this spring.

Tags: , ,

Comments are closed.