First fruits of spring garden.
First fruits of spring garden.

We’ve been enjoying all sorts of greens for weeks now…arugula, spinach, baby kale. But  we always consider the radish as the very first fruit of the garden. They’re an actual thing, you know, not just a leaf. (Apologies to any leaves reading this.)

Radishes actually take their name from how rapidly they germinate and grow. Don’t ask linguistically how…my B.A. English degree is nearly twenty years old. We’ve sometimes gone from seed to radish in two and a half weeks, though normally they take 3-4.

Many people, including ourselves sometimes, plant their radish seeds with their carrot seeds. This way the radishes are up and harvested before the carrots even stop yawning. It saves time from thinning them both. But some gardening experts caution that these two varieties are not great companion plantings, and stunt the growth of both. So often we plant our radishes in the same beds as our bean varieties instead. That way, the radishes are up and out usually before it’s time to begin sowing the bean seeds. (Even thought the radishes go in far ahead of time, be sure to leave enough space between rows to plant the beans later. Beans don’t like to have their roots disturbed, so you want any eventual seedlings to barely notice when you rudely yank up its neighboring radish pals.)

Radishes are usually thought of as a type of garnish, but they can easily step up to the dinner plate. We’ll share some fun radish recipes in the coming weeks. But for now, we like to enjoy the first ones simply rinsed off with the hose au natural. (sp? My French classes are even more historic than my English ones.)

Here are the varieties we grow in the Beekman Heirloom Vegetable Garden, with our recent harvest pics:

The Classic.
The Classic.

EARLY SCARLET GLOBE RADISH Bright red with white flesh, 3 in. long.

Almost translucent.
Almost translucent.

WHITE ICICLE RADISH-  Also known as Lady Finger, this radish was introduced before 1896. It is an excellent radish, but not well known. It has white, carrot like roots, 4 5 in. long with mild flavor. Heat tolerant.

The Gold Standard of Radishes.
The Gold Standard of Radishes.

FRENCH BREAKFAST RADISH – Introduced in 1879, this radish is oblong, and red with a white tip.

LONG BLACK SPANISH RADISH – An unusual black skinned radish with white flesh that is crisp and flavorful. Roots are cylindrical, 8 in. long. (Plant in cool fall months. Late, warm spring weather will prevent root mass from forming before bolting.)

by Josh Kilmer-Purcell

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Elaine

Looks like a great harvest. I have only had the supermarket radish, but I would like to try some of these, especially the white icicle.

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Josh Kilmer-Purcell

the white icicle is very strongly flavored, but delicious. the french breakfast is my favorite. i remember eating them with my uncles in the south of france with nothing but butter and coarse salt. (sounds strange to some people, but the butter really softens the flavor.)

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