Growing Green Radishes

Radically different in appearance than red or even white radishes, the green radish varieties hold some delicious surprises.

Photo by: GREG HADEL

GREG HADEL

By: Nan Chase

Botanical Name: Raphanus sativus var.

While the vast majority of radish varieties have crisp white flesh inside pink or red skin –and occasionally even white or black – green radishes come in an astonishing array of color combinations inside and out. Green skin with white flesh, green skin with pink flesh, green skin with green flesh!

And one popular version of the green radish, called a rat tail or rat’s tail radish, isn’t grown for the roots at all but for the delicious green radish seed pods.

First, a look at the more conventional green radishes, most of which are long-season types that take 50 days or more to mature and should be sown in summer for autumn or winter harvest.

They include:

  • Chinese Green Luobo, also known as Qingluobo. The skin of this beautiful root crop grows from bright green at the “shoulders” to near-white at the tip. Inside, the meat is bright green, forming concentric circles of different shades. Plant seeds in the early autumn when soil is cooling.
  • Chinese Red Meat. Yes, it is green – but only on the outside. The edible meat inside is bright pink, almost red. The round roots are about four inches in diameter and make good eating, whether raw or included in stir-fry. Sometimes called Watermelon Radish, this green variety requires cool soil for planting.
  • Green Meat. This radish is huge! The long roots may grow as wide as three inches and as long as 10 inches in ideal conditions. The mild flavored roots are perfect for making pickles; just cut into chunks and preserve in vinegar. Plant seeds in late summer.
  • Japanese Minowase (Daikon). Delicately colored in light green, this root is often grown for its yield of oilseed when mature. In the home garden it can grow to two feet in length.This radish is so large it is often used as a soil conditioner over the winter. The flesh is mild and sweet. The shoulders push up above the ground as it grows; 55 days to maturity.

Now for the rat-tailed radish. Another radish that requires about 50 days to mature, this unusual plant produces an abundance of delicate pink-purple flowers. The flowers in turn attract beneficial insects to the garden, and some gardeners get good results even when they grow rattail radishes in pots rather than in the ground.

When the flowers are fertilized they produce huge yields of spicy seed pods. These are treasured by many cooks because they make excellent pickles and contribute a lot of pizzazz to stir fry dishes. As long as you pick the pods before they get too big, they even make a good raw snack.

Sow rat tail radish seeds directly into well-prepared soil that’s rich in organic material. Plant the seeds 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep and give them plenty of room to roam. The harvest goes on and on, so be sure to pick the pods frequently.

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