Hello spring, hello radishes!

When the nice days come back, we love their round and pink faces. Because in this period of transition between the winter vegetables and the first shoots of new vegetables, they taste as good as spring itself. Did you know that radishes do not belong to the root vegetable family? Known since antiquity, they are a part of the brassicas like mustard, arugula, watercress and cabbage. We find their traces in the writings of Olivier de Serres, considered as the father of French agronomy, the science of agriculture. Although in the sixteenth century, the terms of “agronomy” was referred to as “mesnager des champs or “farmland manager”. He invites gardeners to “sow every moon ( 28 days ) during six months…to have…every day new and tender raiforts (radishes)”. The agronomist is probably referring to the cultivation of radishes called “every month radish “. However, one has more chance of success if one waits until April to sow radishes, or even better early may.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the famous Vilmorin seeds catalog presents about forty small radishes, including the “National”. But it was not until 1838 that its competitors,  the Fabre establishments in Metz,  offered the “pink half-length radish”, which is still on sale in the official seeds catalog.

Surprisingly enough, France is divided in two, regarding the taste of radishes; in the North, in the Paris region, and in the West, one prefers the radish without a white tip, while in the South one likes more the bicolored radish. This is how the market garden palette offers all sorts of varieties ranging from the pink round with white tip to the scarlet round through the half-long scarlet with white tip.

Who says growing radishes is a breeze? If its rapid growth is well suited to children’s impatience, thinning its young shoots requires patience and meticulousness. What means thinning ? It consists in removing some shoots to leave more room for the others and give them a chance to bloom. The usual package promises that your seeds will bloom in eighteen days , but actually, it is necessary to add one more week.

Finally, to prevent the radishes from becoming too spicy, it is better to water them regularly and not to delay picking them. The most important thing is to keep the soil moist and to hoe from time to time to allow the water to run off.

So let’s enjoy radishes, to enjoy spring.