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Connecticut Garden Journal: Unusual Radishes

Feb 16, 2017

This ancient vegetable hales from Southeast Asia. Laborers who built the pyramids in Egypt were paid with it. In Mexico a special night in December is dedicated to this veggie where they artistically carve the root. What vegetable is this? It's the radish. 

We're all familiar with spring radishes and their red, purple, or white round or elongated crunchy roots. These easy to grow beauties love cool weather producing roots in a month or so.

But what about winter radishes? These take longer to mature and are harvested in fall. The roots are larger and flavor sometimes spicier than spring radishes. But they're unique. Once they reach their mature size, they stay tender and tasty holding in the garden for weeks.

Daikon is probably the best known with its white, elongated roots. Not only is daikon crunchy and sweet flavored, the roots can help break up clay soil. Some farmers sow daikon as a cover crop leaving the roots to rot in the soil and open up air and water spaces for the next crop.

For an unusual winter radish, try 'Black Spanish.' This handball sized root has black skin and a spicy white flesh. 'Watermelon' or 'Red Meat' can grow into the size of a baseball with green skin and deep pink colored flesh. 

Plant winter radishes as you would spring radishes, but in early summer. Thin seedlings four to six inches apart. Use the thinned roots and greens in salads and veggie sautees. Harvest them anytime the roots have formed. To extend the harvest into winter, cover the roots in fall with a layer of hay or straw.

Next week on the Connecticut Garden Journal, I'll be talking about forcing flowering branches. Until then, I'll be seeing you in the garden.