Tag Archives: radish greens

Radish Love

Radish assortment from this year's garden.

Radish assortment from this year’s garden.

I probably never ate a radish (willingly) until I was well into adulthood. They just weren’t very good. In the last several years though, I’ve discovered there are lots of radishes that actually taste very good. I just have to grow them myself. They are nowhere to be found in the stores.

Radishes are my go-to early season garden filler. They are the first thing I plant in the spring, as soon as the ground is warm enough to dig. They are the perfect bridge between winter and summer. They grow fast and easily even in cold early spring temperatures, only taking about 25 days from germination to tasty salad addition. By the time they are all harvested and eaten, it’s time to put in more summery crops.

Pink Beauty radishes, early in the seson.

Pink Beauty radishes, early in the season.

French Breakfast radishes almost ready for picking.

French Breakfast radishes almost ready for picking.

Now, the whole radish is edible. The leaves can be added to salads, soups, stir fry, or wherever a bright green slightly bitter and peppery punch is needed. Truth is, I don’t love to eat the leaves. Sometimes they are fuzzy, even “spikey” as my kids say. I prefer to toss the leaves in the compost and let them nourish us that way.

Cherry Belle radishes with their greens.

Cherry Belle radishes with their greens.

For me, the radish root itself is where it’s at. Fresh from the garden they are crisp and full of zip. Even better after being chilled in the refrigerator for an hour or so.

Radishes have varying degrees of “heat”. Seed catalogs usually inform on the level of bite that can be expected. Terms such as “mild”, “pungent” and “hot” give an idea of what to expect.

Here are some radish varieties I’ve grown and enjoyed:

Pink Beauty
French Breakfast
Cherry Belle
Early Scarlet Globe

Radishes are great by themselves, but they also make delicious dippers. Any veggie dip would work. However, a real treat is to make an herb butter compound and serve that room temperature alongside chilled radishes. Oh my. Butter and radishes are a match made in heaven. If it’s too early in the season for fresh herbs, dried are a good substitute. My kids love plain butter with just some garlic salt mixed in. And if all it takes is a little butter and garlic salt to get my kids to eat radishes, then I’m in. Because I remember being a kid who would not eat a radish. So I consider it a success to have raised radish eaters.

Fresh-from-the-garden French Breakfast radishes with an herb butter.

Fresh-from-the-garden French Breakfast radishes with an herb butter.

While the butter dip is my favorite way to eat radishes, there is no denying that they are perfect for salads. A peppery spring salad of arugula and sliced radishes with a simple drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of salt and pepper is something I look forward to every year.

It's no coincidence that arugula and radishes are ready to harvest at the same time. They are a tasty combination!

It’s no coincidence that arugula and radishes are ready to harvest at the same time. They are a tasty combination!

If my radishes are getting a little “long in the tooth” it’s a good time to consider roasting them. Like all root vegetables (think carrots, parsnips, etc) radishes can be tossed with some olive oil and salt and roasted in a hot oven.

There are plenty of other ways to enjoy radishes. A quick online search or scan of Pinterest will yield tons of ideas.

I’ve never grown a fall crop of radishes, but maybe it’s time to start. They are pretty much the perfect start to the gardening season, I imagine it’d make a fitting end to enjoy them then too.

Radishes come in many shapes and colors. It's worth seeking out new varieties in seed catalogs.

Radishes come in many shapes and colors. It’s worth seeking out new varieties in seed catalogs.

Gathering Greens & A Few Other Things

Washed, bagged salad greens are perhaps one of the greatest inventions of our modern times.  Sort of.  It’s completely convenient and easy to dump them into a bowl and dress them for a salad, or into a skillet to saute for dinner.  They are clean and crisp, and relatively inexpensive.  But when I think of the gross amount of water and energy used to bring those greens to my table, I cringe a little bit.

Somewhere out in California or Mexico, depending on the season, those greens were grown, washed, bagged, loaded on a refrigerated truck, driven to Wisconsin, kept cold by refrigeration until they made their way to my house and ultimately my mouth.

It seems ridiculous because it’s so easy to just plant a few seeds out in my yard and eat fresh(er) greens anytime I want (as the season permits) using virtually a fraction of a fraction of the amount of energy used to bring me those bagged, washed grocery store varieties.

Don’t get me wrong: I do occasionally treat myself to box or bag of grocery store salad in the dead of winter.  I’m not a purist by any stretch of the imagination.

But I am thoughtful about my greens, and thankful I can grow ’em myself 7 months out of the year.

I like to grow spinach, arugula, head lettuce, leaf lettuce, swiss chard and will be adding kale to the lineup this year.  In addition we also eat the tops of our radishes and beets.

When I’m ready to make a salad or saute something green, I head outside.  Using a kitchen scissors I make quick work of gathering what I need.  As I cut, I put everything directly into my salad spinner.

I take the salad spinner insert outside to harvest greens.

Arugula fresh from the garden, prior to washing.

Once inside I use the salad spinner to bathe the greens in very cold water… this perks them right up and brings them to the perfect temperature for serving.  At the same time they are getting nice and clean without the use of machinery or bleach or anything else those big salad growers out West are using.

I spin them dry in the spinner and we are ready to use them.

When I want to prep the greens in advance of using them or I just have more than I can eat at one time, I store them in a plastic bag with a paper towel in it.  This seems to keep them crisp and they usually last at least a week in the refrigerator, sometimes longer.

Bagged arugula is ready for the refrigerator.

If I discover a more earth-friendly way to do this that doesn’t involve plastic or paper towels I’ll be happy.  But for now this works marvelously for me.

Now on to a few other items.  This time of year tomato plants are growing very quickly and putting new leaves, branches and blossoms every day.  I am in the habit and pinching off the “suckers” that grow between the stem and branches.  It helps to develop a stronger plant.

"Suckers" grow at the point where the stem meets the branch. At this size they are easy to pinch off.

We’ve also had some excellent bird viewing around the garden these last few days.  Our robins have been carefully guarding their eggs.  I’ve noticed that they take turns, one of them tends to sit on the nest most of the time and when it’s the second one’s turn to be on guard duty he prefers to sit on the edge of the nest or in a nearby location.  The fence that hides our air conditioner seems to be a favorite location.

This nest is so sweet. It's getting more difficult to see and photograph it as the honeysuckle has filled in.

Mr. Robin on his favorite perch at night. He's noticed me taking his picture.

Here is Mr. Robin in the background and the trellis where the nest sits in the foreground. He never lets the nest out of his sight and is quick to run other birds such as cardinals out of the yard.

Mrs. Robin dutifully sits. I wonder if these lights surprised her the first night they came on.

A yellow finch stopped by for a drink at the honeysuckle. I've also spotted hummingbirds here.

And finally, I’ve been very busy putting all the starts and seeds into the garden beds this last week.  I’m happy to report that (for now) everything is in!  There will be some successive planting and late season planting later on, but the big spring dig is done and I’m very pleased with how it’s come together so far.

Herb bed and trellis with honeysuckle.

Vegetable bed with the grid still in place. I've planted using a square foot approach this year.