Monday, May 4, 2015

Finally, a radish I can stand to eat

Radishes are not a wildly popular thing in this country, probably because the ones available in supermarkets are so nasty - limp, not crunchy, bitter. I've tried growing them a few times, but gave up in disgust. Sure, they sprout in a matter of days but when to harvest? I never got that quite right. Pick too soon and they're inedible. Pick too late and they're inedible.

Finally, a radish I can stand to eat

Radishes are not a wildly popular thing in this country, probably because the ones available in supermarkets are so nasty - limp, not crunchy, bitter. I've tried growing them a few times, but gave up in disgust. Sure, they sprout in a matter of days but when to harvest? I never got that quite right. Pick too soon and they're inedible. Pick too late and they're inedible.

This year, I bought seeds for French Breakfast heirloom radishes at the flower show. Buying seeds on the last day of the show, when I'm blessedly off-duty, is something I look forward to all year. You can see and read the seed packets. You can talk to Barbara Melera, owner of Landreth Seed Co. You can chat with other gardeners perusing the seed racks. Good deal.

Well, the first crop is in. I was weeding over the weekend and came across about a dozen red radishes poking above ground. I pulled them out, washed them up and am here to report that they were not nasty! which is about as good as it gets with radishes at my house.

Why do I keep trying? Because a few years ago, a friend and fellow gardener - I mean, she is the champ - treated me to French Breakfast radishes sliced lengthwise, atop slices of fresh baguette, with ice cold butter and sea salt. Forget whatever you think about radishes. These were heavenly.

Didn't have any baguettes lying around the house this weekend. Didn't even have butter. But plain French Breakfast, which dates to 1879, with a little Smart Balance and sea salt was pretty darned OK. Super crunchy, spicy, hot, juicy. I might even bring them to work. French Lunch radishes, coming right up.

Inquirer Staff Writer
About this blog
Ginny Smith, a Philadelphia native, joined the Inquirer at 1985. After stints as both reporter and editor in the city and suburbs, she’s been happily writing – and learning - about gardening full time since 2006. She’s won two silver medals of achievement from the national Garden Writers Association and in 2011, Bartram’s Garden honored her with its Green Exemplar award for her stories about “the region’s deeply rooted horticultural history, cultural attractions and bountiful gardens.” She plays in her own – mostly - bountiful garden in East Falls. Reach Virginia A. at vsmith@phillynews.com .

Virginia A. Smith Inquirer Staff Writer
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