Dainty, feisty breakfast radishes

   Radishes, 'Petit Dejeuner'_3635

'Petit Dejeuner' Radishes
"Dainty with a feisty taste" is how @sophiemostly describes the ideal French Breakfast Radish. I harvested this crop on June 2nd, 59 days after sowing.
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The first thing I'm going to do is send you away to read The Radish on the beautiful Nourish Me. Lucy's prose and photographs make me feel like I've feasted when I haven't eaten a bite and illuminate aspects of food I'd forgotten or never known. And perhaps like me, after experiencing this lush post you will admire and desire this humble root even more.

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Now I'll assume (and hope) you've returned to Greens & Berries, nourished by Lucy's post, your mouth watering, craving pickled radishes & wondering how to grow your own crop of Raphanus sativus. In this post I'm going to share with you all I've learned so far. Keep in mind I'm a novice needing more radish education as I've completed only one crop cycle of sowing, tending, harvesting and tasting.

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Growing radishes

After harvesting my first crop last week, I found these two resources:

  • Barbara Damrosch, in this Kitchen Gardener's International article, asks us to "rethink the radish" and suggests crisp, crunchy, colourful, zesty (and all its synonyms) varieties to try in our gardens.
  • According to this NYT article, radishes are "easy to sprout" (this I knew) but "hard to grow right" (this I didn't know, thankfully, or I may not have tried them in my limited space). The article explains how to grow the ideal radish, "a crisp, delicately piquant root, nice for slicing into salads or eating out of hand with a sprinkle of salt and a slice of buttered bread."

Now that you and I know the "right way" to grow radishes, I'm going to tell you what I actually did:

  1. I grew 8 radishes in a 20 cm (8-inch) diameter pot, though I probably would have gotten bigger roots if I'd planted the seeds deeper and thinned out more seedlings.
  2. I used a mixture of 3/4 organic potting soil and 1/4 vermicompost and did not amend the soil after sowing.
  3. Here are photos of the seedlings 18 days and 29 days after sowing.
  4. The weather was mostly just right (cool) in April and early May though there were many warm, summer-like days from mid-May on. I kept the soil moist, never letting it dry out completely but not soaking it either.
  5. The growing radishes received full sun for no more than 5-6 hours each day, usually between 8 am and 2 pm.
  6. They grew next to pots of kale, broccoli raab and mixed greens creating a pretty mix of leafy textures. Though I didn't have any flowering ornamental plants in May, I think these edible greens would make a lush filler for a brightly-coloured thriller.

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Eating radishes

Here's a handful of recipes from my food network. So I can try them all, I've written a note-to-self to sow more radish seeds next time and sow them every week during the cool weather.

  • New Moon Radishes, Radish Leaves Rasam, & Fresh Radish Chutney: 2 cups fresh mint, 25 g radish, 1/4 onion, salt, green chilli, 1/2 tablespoon lime juice. Blend. Add water to thin if necessary (recommended by @Ganga108, a new online friend)

Two mornings ago I finally solved my pleasant quandary: what to do with my tiny harvest of petite radishes. Though I'd received the tasty suggestions from my food network, by Sunday morning the crop had dwindled to just four small roots so I made a quick decision to slice them thinly as a topping on toast spread with creamy cheese. The radishes added a pop of colour, crunch & a subtle piquancy. Definitely dainty but not quite feisty -- more like politely assertive.

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Nutrition (or the section where the gardener puts on her dietitian hat)

Though I've never seen radishes on any "healthiest foods you should be eating" list, they aren't just water & cellulose --  they're tasty, low-energy, good sources of fibre, vitamin C and potassium.  (See complete nutrition profile here.)

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So now I'd like to satisfy my new breakfast craving and harvest another crop in about 40 or fewer days (before it gets too hot) plus increase my radish knowledge and recipe collection. Which varieties of radishes are you growing this year? Do you have any growing or eating tips? Please share them in the comments below.