Sunday, December 03, 2017

Lessons Learned: Radishes

By Uyen Nguyen

Throughout my time with Washington Gardener magazine, two other interns and I got the opportunities to plant, water, weed, and harvest our very own vegetables with editor and publisher Kathy Jentz. We each grew them separately in Kathy’s plot in the Fenton Community Garden in Silver Spring, MD.
Growing up, I loved eating daikon radishes — usually pickled or in soups, but I never tried any other kinds of radishes, even though there are way too many to name. So, this semester I chose to grow four different types of radishes: ‘White Icicle’, ‘French Breakfast’, ‘Cherry Belle’, and ‘Roxanne F1’ (a 2015 All-America Selections winner)
Before we planted them, Kathy Jentz told me radishes are easy to grow in the fall because they are cool-season vegetables and mature very fast, but I never imagined how right she’d be — the 'French Breakfast' and 'Roxanne' radishes were ready to be harvested in just a month. (Planted Sept. 10, harvested Oct. 11)
Disclaimer: We pulled the ‘Roxanne’ radishes and replaced them with the ‘Cherry Belle’ radishes one week after the first harvest (Oct. 18) and a frost hit, so the 'Cherry Belle' didn’t grow as fast as the others.

The ‘French Breakfast’ radishes are the oblong ones shown below and they grew to be about 1.5 inches long and 0.75 inches wide. These radishes are tall and skinny. Since they stuck a bit above ground, they were vulnerable to pests, but you can just cut the bitten parts off.

The ‘Roxanne’ radishes are the small, round ones below. These grew to be about 1-1.5 inches in diameter and were the most spicy or "sharp" out of the bunch, but were very easy to cut into tiny slices because of the crispiness. I ate these and the 'French Breakfast' radishes raw with hummus.

The ‘White Icicle’ were last to be harvested, but they grew the longest. I think these were my favorite to eat because they were less spicy. They were definitely my favorite to pull because of the gratification I got from seeing the almost 5-inch beauties. I put these radishes in my soup and they added tons of flavor to my dish — it was like a spicy carrot.

Things I learned from my experience:
·      Radishes aren’t spicy the way jalapeno peppers are spicy, but they give you the same "nose-tickle" that follows when biting into something spicy.
·      Radish greens are edible! When handling them, be careful of their tiny prickles. The greens have a delicious spinach-like flavor when cooked.
·      Gardens are like an outdoor classroom — it’s fun to plant vegetables, even if you are not a typical gardener because the care you put into your plot makes you appreciate the food you eat even more.

About the Author:
Uyen Nguyen is a senior multiplatform journalism major at the University of Maryland. This autumn, she is an editorial intern at Washington Gardener Magazine.

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