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April 8, 2014 > Pat Kites Garden: Raising radishes

Pat Kites Garden: Raising radishes

By Pat Kite

The only super-duper radish is one you grow yourself. To me, store-bought radishes have a too strong, peppery tang making me Òyuk.Ó But ones not left in the ground too long are cool and smooth. Another homegrown plus, if you donÕt have an outside garden, you can put radishes in a patio pot or even locate them in a mostly sunny window. Lately I tend to do the latter, as my snail contingent seems to lie in wait and eat anything emerging.

Radish history goes back into vague times, but most researchers believe food radishes originated in China. For those liking dates, a Chinese document reference is from 1100 B.C. Like any food item, it travelled. The pyramid-constructing Egyptians fed radishes, garlic and onions to their workers believing it gave them strength. Radishes, despite claims to the contrary, have basically no real food value. However, travelling through time, in about 1550, one doctor wrote, ÒThe radice quickeneth the wittes of the senses. It also taketh away blacke and blewe marks. It helpeth them also that are bitten of a viper or adder. With the mele of darnell it wasteth away frickelles. Both in meate and drinke it is good for them that are almost strongled with todstoles.Ó Do not ask me what a todstole is.

There are all kinds of radishes besides the round red ones usually found at the market. Black Soviet, Candela di Ghaiccia from Italy, Chunaga Shogoin from Japan, Egyptian Spring, Kirmizi Turp from Turkey, Madras from India, Munchener Bier whose seedpods are pickled and eaten with beer, like pretzels, etc.

To grow them indoors, a good child project too, get a large pot. It should have a drainage hole. Fill it with potting soil. Push radish seeds in about one-half inch deep. Water. Then put in a spot with bright light. Water when the soil feels dry. Do not let soil dry out. In about a week, you will see sprouts. Thin them out a bit. Depending on what seeds you buy, you should have radishes in 4 to 6 weeks. You might try several kinds if you have a well-lighted area. Children prefer the fastest growing types.

Outdoors in ground, sow one-half inch deep, two per inch. If you can add a little manure to the growing area, it does help. Since radishes can be harvest-ready quite quickly, make successive plantings every week. Keep soil moist. Dry, then wet, alternating soil leads to a woody bitter harvest. And if you really get enthused, try the Sakurajima Mammouth Radish. It will be as big as a watermelon and can weigh over 100 pounds.

The San Leandro Dahlia Society has its sale Saturday, April 26th at Root Park (1071 East 14th St) in San Leandro, 9 to 1 p.m. showing 200 varieties.

Heirloom Flowers Garden ClubÕs annual Niles Wildflower festival plant sale, Sunday, May 18, will feature water wise succulents, perennials, annuals, veggies and garden art. Proceeds support Shinn Park gardens.

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