Radishes

Cookbooks sometimes give a difficulty rating to their recipes. This is usually due to a technique that is required to attain a specific result.

Vegetables should come with those ratings. That way, anyone could tell by a quick glance at the information stake that artichoke and celery are for the advanced grower and summer squash, tomatoes and radishes are ideal for beginners.

I am always up for a good challenge, but who doesn’t like to have a few tried and true producers in vegetable garden? One of those easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy vegetables is the radish.

Radishes are the edible root vegetable from the Brassicaceae family, which is a group of cruciferous vegetables that includes horseradish, kale, collards, cabbage, Brussels, broccoli and cauliflower. They germinate quickly and come to maturity rapidly, as soon as three weeks for some varieties.

Radishes can be planted multiple times throughout the growing season. In spring, sow seeds four to six weeks before the last frost. In our area, the last frost date is generally around the first week in April, so radish seeds can be directly planted into the garden beginning in the end of February.

Another round of seeds can be sewn every 10 to 14 days while the weather remains cool for a staggered harvest that will last until early summer.

The dead heat of summer doesn’t do the radish crop any favors, so begin sewing radishes again in the fall, four to six weeks before the first fall frost, which is historically the end of October. Although they prefer cooler temperatures to grow in, they still require full sun. Shaded areas will coax the plant to produce larger leaves, instead of putting its energy into the edible root.

Radishes grow well in deep, well-drained, friable soils. Friable soil is a soil that crumbles in your hand, is loose in textured and is easy to work with. If soil is compacted, such as tight clay, some sand and/or organic matter can be added to loosen the soil and improve drainage.

Sew seeds directly in the garden by placing seeds in rows 1–2 inches apart with 8–10 inches between rows. The ideal size for harvesting radish root is 3/4 to 1 1/4 inches. Quickly maturing spring varieties can become pithy (sponge-like) and pungent if they are left unharvested for too long.

To check to see if the radish is ready, brush back soil to see if the radish has developed. Then, pull a few, wash them off, and give them a bite. If they are ready, pull them up, cut off the leaves, and put them in a plastic storage bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. They should stay crisp and fresh for a week or two.

Radishes come in a large variety of shapes and sizes. The Alabama Cooperative Extension System suggests the following varieties: Cherry Belle, Early Scarlet Globe, Champion and Sparkler, which are all of the round red variety; and White Icicle, April Cross and Everest, which are long, white Daikon radish varieties. For a stunning addition to a salad, search out Watermelon Radishes. They are true to their name with a green skin surrounding a brilliant pinkish center.

This recipe is as easy as growing the radish. While it’s definitely rated for beginners, you’ll have to break out of the everyday and take a culinary adventure to try this recipe.

Kimchi is a staple in Korean cuisine. It is a traditional side dish of salted and fermented vegetables, namely Napa cabbage or Korean radish, or Daikon radish. Until next week, happy gardening and bon appétit!

Kkakdugi – Korean Radish Kimchi

Ingredients

• 2 1/2 pounds Korean radish, or Daikon

• 10 cloves garlic, minced

• 3 tablespoons Korean Salted Shrimp, minced

• 2 ounces chives or scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces

• 4 tablespoons Korean red pepper flakes

• 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar

• 1 heaping teaspoon sea salt

Preparation

Cut radish into 1-inch cubes and place in large bowl. Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl.

Add mixture to radish cubes and with gloved hands, mix the two together until the radish is completely coated in the paste. (If you don’t have gloves, put large storage bags over your hands before mixing.)

Mix until some of the moisture from the radish comes out to make the mixture wet.

Transfer to an airtight container and leave on counter to ferment overnight, at least 12 hours.

After 12 hours, remove lid and give the kimchi a stir. It is ready to eat! Store in refrigerator. It will keep in the refrigerator for about two months.

— Irland, a member of the Limestone County Master Gardeners, can be reached at kippirland@hotmail.com. For more information on the Limestone County Master Gardeners, visit http://mg.aces.edu/limestone.