New radishes to enjoy – “ la vie en rose “ !

Radish drawing

When nice weather is back, one loves the round and pink (rose) faces of the radishes.

Because during this transitional period between vegetables for winter storage, and the first outdoor shoots, they are a delight just as spring itself.No needs to be patriotic to enjoy the freshness of our so called “national” radish, which is picked up early morning like aromatic herbs.

By the way, do you know that our radishes don’t belong to the root vegetable botanic family? Known since antiquity, it belongs to the “brassicacées” such as mustard, arugula, watercress, or cabbage. One finds its trace in the writings of Olivier de Serres, around 1600; he invites to sow radishes every new moon for six months for having every day, new and tender radishes.

The agronomist refers to the cultivation of the “every month” radish. But, beware! Its  seedlings have more chance to be successful if we wait until April, while  the “early” radishes are sown in March.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the Vilmorin catalog offered around  forty small radishes, including the “national” one. But it was not until 1838, that the Fabre establishments in Metz in East of France offered the “half-long pink radish”, still now in the official catalog. There was something for everybody’s taste. In the North of France in the Parisian area, and in the West, we prefer the radish with white tips, while in the south we like better the two-colored radish. This is how the vegetable palette is spread out , as shimmering as that of nail polish, with all kinds of varieties ranging from the pink round with a white tip, to the scarlet round, including the half-long scarlet with a white tip.

Who said that growing radishes is a child’s hobby? The quick growth suits the child’s impatience, but on the other hand, thinning out demands patience and thoroughness.

It means removing a few shoots to leave more room for other newcomers, and give them a better chance to flourish. Indeed sowing, these tiny seeds without a seeder can be tricky because you often have a clumsy hand unless we mix them with sand or coffee grounds.

As for the famous eighteen days sowing time, the promise is enticing but misleading because in reality, it takes one more week. Finally for avoiding the radishes to become piquant, it is better to harvest them earlier, and on a regular basis. The most important thing is to keep the soil moist.

Then let’s not deprive ourselves from growing radishes in order to enjoy “ la vie en rose”, especially nowadays.

Raphaèle Bernard-Bacot