Why You Should Let Some Radishes Go To Seed This Month


Radishes are great to grow for gardeners old and new. The easy to handle seeds of radishes are a joy to plant, germination rates are rarely bad and the plants grow really quickly. The radishes can often be harvested in as little as a month, especially when the weather is warmer over the summer months. One of the great things about radishes is that you can sow them little and often and keep on top of your successional planting to enjoy radishes throughout most of the year. They can be a good companion plant for a variety of slower growing vegetables and of course, are a great addition to a salad dish.

Radish leavesWhat many gardeners do not seem to know, however, is that the bulb beneath the ground is not the only part of the radish that can be eaten. The foliage is edible and the younger leaves are good in a mixed leaf salad while the older leaves can be treated much like spinach. What is more, if left to flower then each radish seed will not just produce one root but will supply a much more abundant edible harvest.

Radish Seed PodsAfter flowering, each radish plant will produce literally hundreds of juicy seed pods. All radishes will do this, whether they are French breakfast or a small globe variety like Cherry Belle, though there is one variety, Rat's Tail radish, that is grown specifically for its long, tender seed pods. Whichever kind of radish you choose in your garden, you will be amazed by the size of the harvest possible from just one plant.

Radish seed pods are crisp and juicy with a slight radish bite. Yet they, unlike the roots, will not get too fiery and fierce, even in hot weather. They taste a bit like sugarsnap peas, with just a hint of peppery sting. They can be eaten straight from the plant or in a salad. They are good as a snack at a summer barbecue or stir fried with peas and other vegetables. Arguably, the seed pods are actually more versatile in the kitchen than the more commonly used part of the radish. Just remember not to keep them lying around for too long – like many other harvests at this time of year, the seed pods are best eaten right after you pick them.

Of course, the delicious seed pods are not the only reason to let a few radishes go to seed. Before the pods form the flowers will be beneficial for passing pollinators. What is more, if you can bear not to eat them all, you can leave a few radish seed pods to fully ripen and dry out. By selecting the seeds from a few of the best plants, you can have a free supply to plant next year and by doing this year after year, you will rear radishes perfectly suited to your garden.