19 May 2013

Saturday Spotlight - Radishes

When I decided to focus on radishes for this week's Saturday Spotlight that links up with Liz at Suburban Tomato, I started searching for a decent photo of them.  Apart from one that I'd happened to take this week for my series on dashes of red in the garden, they have barely rated a mention in my photo archive in the past year.  It made me realise that although they are a constant in the garden, being planted and harvested continually all year around, they are perhaps somewhat taken for granted.

There are a few types grown in the Country Garden, the traditional round red, the French Breakfast and the multi-coloured Easter Egg varieties, depending on which packet of seeds happen to be picked up when it's time for another batch.  We grow them in the polystyrene boxes close to the kitchen, usually about three boxes at a time, planting probably too thickly but then thinning out by eating them as they grow.  By doing this they hardly ever seem to reach the proportions that you see at the market, but they are crunchy and zingy, full of peppery flavour.

The only pest that appears to be a problem are slugs, who regularly get stuck into them if we don't pick the radishes first, adding to the temptation to eat them young.  The slugs nibble around the tops of them above ground.  If I wanted to hold off eating them until they were larger I'd probably sprinkle coffee grounds around the boxes, which I think would work.  But as the radishes grow I've found that they often split and can become a bit woody inside, so eating them young and replanting regularly seems to be a good solution.  

My friend E grows black radishes in her community garden plot.  I'm not sure if they are the same family as the red ones, as both the radishes and the plants grow much bigger, but I have some seeds that we saved from her garden, so I'm looking forward to giving them a go.  You can see one of them sitting on the edge of the planter in the photo below.  The plant is the large one at the rear with the pale mauve flowers.
I love that radishes are so easy and quick to grow.  They would be a great vegetable to try for new gardeners.  There is a classic way to eat them that I've read about a number of times and tried but I have to admit I don't really get: putting a bit of butter and a sprinkle of sea salt on them before eating them.  My preferred method is just to slice them finely into salads for an instant lift and a dash of colour.

Pop over to Liz's fabulous blog and check out the vegies that others are spotlighting this weekend.


10 comments:

  1. I've never been an enormous radish fan, but am hoping growing my own will make me a convert!

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    1. I'd never bought any until I started growing them, but give them a go, they taste great freshly picked!

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  2. I am a salt with radish fan, but that probably says more about my laziness than anything else. Along with the varieties you list I also grow Watermelon radishes which are bigger and a fabulous pink inside. Really fun.

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    1. Oh yes, I've seen them in the Diggers catalogue, I'll have to try some in my next order.

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  3. Great radish post! I have never had much success with radish, I can never understand why everyone says they are easy to grow :( But this time I planted them with my carrot seed in autumn and they seem to be doing ok, I am just picking them as they get big enough, to thin them out. In summer they always seem to bolt to seed, do you have that problem? Do you just plant them in normal soil?

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    1. I hadn't thought about it until you asked the question, but I have never got any to the point that they go to seed. I think that's because we're harvesting and replanting in a fairly quick cycle, but they've certainly never looked like they would bolt. They are planted in the polystyrene boxes in what is pretty average soil. They get an occasional seaweed solution drink, and are watered regularly, but otherwise not much love! Not sure why yours are doing that unless it's too hot in your part of the world?

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  4. we love them thinly sliced with a little vinegar,salt and pepper I tried the black ones this year, they were very hot and not as crunchy, but that may have been because I grew them over the hotter months.

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    1. I really must dig our the seeds I saved of the black ones and see if they'll grow. I like the idea of adding vinegar to them.

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  5. I haven't planted any radishes in the garden this year as our weather was just too warm and dry this spring. I may plant some in the autumn though. The fact they do grow so quickly does make it easy to sneak in a crop even late in the season. I love French Breakfast, and actually enjoy them sauteed. One of my more recent favorites though is the watermelon radish. It's just gorgeous thinly shaved and served as part of a salad, or in a sandwich!

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    1. I've just ordered some watermelon radish seeds, can't wait to try them! I had never thought about cooking them, does it change the flavour? I'll have to try it.

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