Radishes: Grow This Now!
I was first drawn to radishes as a child...watching Fraggle Rock. Every few episodes the Fraggles risked life and limb to sneak into the Gorgs garden and steal radishes for themselves and the industrious Doozers. Google it. They were a big deal. So, being an impressionable 5yr old, the next time I saw this prized vegetable on a party tray, I grabbed it and took a bite. It was kind of horrible – dry, hard, and funky. These are not words you want to describe food, (with the exception of well-aged cheese). But really?! How could the Fraggles face danger for this? Also in true 5yr old fashion, I snuck it into the trash before running back to play. Sadly, I wouldn’t even glance at a radish for another 20yrs.
But let’s fast forward shall we? One day, as a bona fide grown-up grocery shopper, a little burst of magenta caught my eye in the produce section. It was conspicuously tucked into the coveted display of organic vegetables; with their boisterous green manes intact and a salacious lack of plastic covering. I was lured. Now this was food! Once again, I grabbed them (bought them, took them home) and took a bite. Vibrant, crisp, and peppery – this was not the ashy crudités of my childhood. This was good! After Googling, “how to eat radishes”, it got even better. Cool, creamy butter on bread, thin slivers of radish and a sprinkle of kosher salt. In that moment of 20-something brokeness, I was livin’ high on the hog.
Something about the delicate, creeping heat, slight pungency and riotous color makes this inexpensive root feel like a luxury, a special thing to enjoy in the Spring. And this year, in my early garden planning, the lightbulb went off. “Duh Erica… grow yourself some radishes.” I was inwardly ecstatic to learn that radishes are one of the most forgiving things you can grow from seed. They mature quickly, and are perfect for a container garden. Sold. I brought them home, prepared the space between some strawberries and planted seeds. After a few days of anxious peeking, they sprouted. Then they didn’t die. So I thinned them, sampled the sprouts, and found the familiar flavor of arugula.
After about 3 weeks, the leaves were full and still a little crowded. I carefully – nervously – pulled the one with the largest leaves to make space. Lo and behold, it was a real, round, edible radish! It was the first successful harvest of my late winter planting and I was thrilled. That little red token felt like a sign of good things to come.
And that’s when I decided that you (yes you) should grow some radishes too. They're encouraging. So grow them even if you think you don’t like them… even if you remember eating them as a child, and you know you don’t like them. Grow radishes because they grow all the way from seed to food, in a pot, in less than 30 days. Grow radishes in memory of the brave, brave Fraggles.
You will need:
- 1 medium (10 - 12in.) pot* with a drainage hole and tray.
1 small bag of organic potting soil or soil/ compost mix.
A small spade or big spoon
A means of gentle watering (repurposed plastic bottle perhaps?)
Seeds* (ordered or purchased from your nearest nursery)
* The heirloom and specialty varieties are so tempting; but I suggest starting with one of the more common round varieties or long french if you're feeling daring.
Find a good sunny spot indoors (that’s right apartment dwelling friends) or outside that will accommodate your pot. If you live in an area that’s already getting hot afternoons, aim for some dappled sun and order seeds for a heat tolerant variety.
Add your soil to the pot.
Follow the recommendations for sowing seeds on the packet.
Water those babies.
Done!… for now.
Since you were kinda pushed into this, the least I can do is come back with some ways to enjoy what you grow. I’ll be testing recipes and rounding up a few solid options for you posthaste.