Wednesday, May 6, 2009
radishes for supper
This is my first selective harvest from an April 4 seeding of radishes. I've learned to scatter them scarcely so that I didn't have too much thinning to do. These are small but very tasty and were a fine addition to the relish plate. Radishes need an abundant supply of moisture and nutrition in order to make crisp juicy sweet flesh. Many of you are doing raised beds with nice loose organic media and radishes probably do well.
Radishes almost always quickly germinate, but they do not always make sweet/pungent fat roots that we are accustomed to eating. Beginners need to thin seedlings so they stand at least 2 inches apart, and soil should be amended before planting so that nutrition is immediately available.
Radishes are one of the vegetables that are influenced by day length and if you plant the spring types too late in the season they make all tops and no roots. There are spring, summer, and winter types. We are mostly accustomed to the spring types like Cherry Belle, or Sparkler. Some people are starting to plant some of the bigger winter types late in the garden season. I am going to try some this year just for fun.
They are a very good companion crop for carrots, lettuce, and cucumbers.
The scientific name for radishes is Raphanus sativus and historian Pliny notes that they were cultivated in Egypt at the time of the pharoahs and chinese literature first mentions them in medical literature of the 14th century. By 1806 there were 11 types known to be cultivated in America.
They contain an antibiotic called raphinin. As an herb they have been used medicinally to improve digestion, act as an expectorant and are known to be effective against bacterial and fungal infections.
..more than you ever wanted or needed to know about radishes.
I usually plant too many of them and I did that again this year. Sigh. They are cute and add color to salads and are tasty as long as the weather stays cool and we get plenty of rain.