Radishes are one of those things that I think it can be quite hard to get truly passionate about. Tomatoes – well the ‘love apple’ moniker says it all, chillies have fire, eggplants are tactile, broccoli is good for you and so it goes on until you get to radishes and well hmmmmm. (The same thing happens when you get to turnips – they just aren’t a romantic vegetable to grow….) But radishes do have a lot to recommend them. They are quick to grow, relatively trouble free and have a mellow kind of heat that can bring a warming accent to a salad. Plus they come in loads of colours not to mention shapes and sizes.
How I grow them:
I have found radishes super easy to grow. I usually sow seed from a so called Radish mix which gives me a mixture of sizes, shapes, textures and colours. I have to say I tend to prefer the traditional French varieties – like the ones pictured above but I also enjoy Daikon (known as Mouli in India) occasionally – although I sometimes find its size a little overwhelming (they can get very large indeed). The other reason I like the smaller varieties is that I tend to grow them as a quick crop between rows of other things – for instances between rows of broccoli or cauliflower. The smaller varieties are usually ready at the right time to be picked and allow the slower crops more room.
You can sow radish seed at any time of the year in a temperate climate like Melbourne’s and they tend to germinate pretty quickly – usually in under a week – making them great crops for kids to grow. I sow seed direct and then thin at the seedling stage at a point when I can see which varieties I am thinning out. This means I have a good variety at harvest time.
Radishes grow more quickly in the warmer months so the time it takes them to mature seems to vary considerably throughout the year. I do tend to pick them reasonably small as they do have a tendency to get a bit woody in the middle if you leave them too long.
On the pest front they are reasonably troublefree. As a brassica the cabbage white butterflies show occasional interest – but they seem to prefer caulis and broccoli. Seedlings should be protected from slugs and snails and the only other issue I’ve had is mice having the occasional nibble – at least I’m presuming its mice. The photo below shows the damage. I guess it could be a bird but I’ve never seen one having a go…..
How I use them:
I use radishes primarily raw in salads – usually in salads like the one in my post on lettuces: http://suburbantomato.com/2011/05/lettuce-sing/. Last week I made a really enjoyable salad along those lines using the harvest below – you could almost pretend it was spring…..