Alternative vegetables: radish edition

What to do when your radishes bolt into flower before the root sizes up enough to eat?

Radish Pods / Rat-tail Radishes (From Plant Pictures)

Why, eat them anyway, of course!

Radish pods are my new favorite low-maintenance vegetable crop. Don’t let the seed catalogs convince you that you need a special variety of radish to grow these tasty seed pods – my radish population is a bastard cross of three years of French Breakfast, Cherry Belle and daikon intermingled by bees, and the pods tasted great – mild radish flavor with the crunch and juice of snap peas. (Well, there were a few skinny ones that were spicy enough to blow my head off, but I am convinced with no evidence that they came from the relatively unimproved daikon. Any cultivated garden variety radish should do you fine.) Harvest when bright, shiny and firm, before the insides get fibrous. They should be preservable in the same ways as snap peas or green beans – Terre Vivante specifies jarring these, soaking them in a few changes of water, then lactofermenting.

These pictures are from 5 July, the end of the spring self-sown batch, but the next batch is flowering now and should give me another crop of pods before frost. Make sure to leave some pods to mature for next year’s seed – and if you leave the pods on the plant long enough, they’ll split and self-sow. Vegetable gardening can’t get any easier than that.

From Plant Pictures

The flowers are tasty too, if you can’t wait for the seed pods to develop – and are actually spicier in flavor than the pods. And of course the cooked leaves are good for soups and greens.

The best thing about radish pods – for the same effort, one radish plant will give you one radish root, or 30-50 pods. I know which I’m choosing.

From Plant Pictures

Permaculturists, don’t forget the immense value of deep daikon roots for breaking down hard-packed soil and infiltrating organic matter deep into tough clay. By taking the additional yield of pods, you can have your radish flavor and your organic matter boost too!

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