Northern Chinese winters are notoriously harsh; these long cylindrical radishes sweeten up when exposed to frost and make a nutritious mid-winter snack.This variety is traditionally offered as a sliced fresh “fruit” at Beijing tea parties in winter-time.We also love this beautiful bright green radish root as a winter time snack. .

Heirloom Radish Varieties - Mother Earth News

Sprinkled throughout the gardening advice are old-fashioned recipes — such as Parsnip Cake, Artichoke Pie and Pepper Wine — that highlight the flavor of these vegetables.This is a vegetable that formerly played an important role in our diet, only to be relegated today to the status of a garnish, like sprigs of parsley and bits of sliced olive.I can recall many old Pennsylvania Dutch relatives who lamented the fact that people had stopped serving radishes for breakfast.Radishes are grouped botanically under Brassicaceae, and are therefore part of the same vegetable clan as cabbages, turnips, watercress, rocket, and garden cress.All of these plants have very similar seed pods, so the logic for this grouping is probably more obvious to gardeners than to people who only see the vegetables in markets.Unfortunately, growers have not yet rediscovered them, and I think they would be quite surprised to know that the list of surviving heirlooms is huge, so choices are not limited.The oldest documentation of the radish takes us back to Asia in the form of literary references and archaeological remains in North China.Ancient Greek travel writer Herodotus planted the long-held belief that the early Egyptians grew radishes, but Egyptologists have exploded this for several reasons.Galen of Pergamon (A.D. 129–199) wrote that radishes were eaten raw with salt and vinegar, and that the poor cooked the stems and leaves.The codex of Dioskorides, which I have mentioned many times already, contains the earliest surviving botanical picture of a radish, a long-rooted sort with fully developed seed pods.It is not surprising that physicians like Galen or Dioskorides would take note of the radish; it was considered a very important food with high medical value.In the Anglo-Saxon leechdoms of England, there were over twenty references to the medical uses of the radish, including its efficacy in warding off a woman’s chatter and for depression.The superne raedic often mentioned in that period is thought to be a large white variety something akin to the daikon radish of today, or more likely, to the white-skinned form of Long Black Spanish.Even in the 1500s, when radish culture began to shift to newer sorts, the most common varieties were the old large-rooted ones, shaped like elongated beets.The Early Scarlet Short Top traces to this period and was a radish of choice among the wealthy because it could be grown in large numbers under cold frames.The long, narrow shape permitted kitchen gardeners to pack the plants close together, especially if they were grown in heavy sand.The Abbé Rozier discussed numerous eighteenth-century radishes in his agricultural encyclopedia, dividing them out by shape, color, and place of origin.Pragmatically, a kitchen gardener could maintain three types, a spring, a summer, and a fall or winter radish, thus supplying the table over the course of the season.It was preferred in this country because, true to its ultimate Italian origin, it would bear the heat better in late spring and early summer.To prevent worms, take equal parrs of buckwheat bran, and fresh horse dung, and mix well with the ground — in forty-eight hours fermentation, and a crop of toad stools will be produced.It is rare to find so much useful information on radish culture condensed into such a succinct snippet, and odd as it may seem, Barnum’s enthusiasm for fermenting dung to sterilize the soil is brilliant, cheap, and effective.Europeans prefer to pull them young; Americans often wait too long, and the radishes are either pithy in the center or cracked.Since radish seed remains viable for five years, it is possible to maintain as many as fifteen varieties, allowing three growouts per season.Parsnips and Black Spanish radish were the first root vegetables of early spring among the eighteenth-century farmers in my part of the country.The skin of the radish is charcoal black and somewhat rough, due to tiny wrinkles; the flesh is clear, crisp white.In any case, its small size, about 3 inches in diameter, made it popular as an inexpensive grade of winter radish, reliable for its hardiness.Philadelphia seedsman Robert Buist (1847, 107) recommended sowing seed in August and lifting the radishes in October.After a few hours of marination, the radish was drained, pressed dry, and served as a salad with vinegar and oil.Raphanussativus China Rose is believed to have evolved directly out of the wild radish of Asia rather than out of a garden form under long cultivation.It was known to Fearing Burr through the Vilmorin-Andrieux Description des plantes potagères (1856), and by 1864 seed was being offered on a regular basis by James J. H.

Gregory of Marblehead, Massachusetts.The radish is vivid rose pink, about 4 to 5 inches long, and shaped somewhat like a short, stumpy sausage.Raphanus sativus This is the round or top-shaped violet version of the common red radish, and was mentioned as a good hardy sort by cookbook author Amelia Simmons (1796, 13).The advantage of the turnip-shaped varieties, as they were called, was that they overwintered well, especially when covered with straw or when raised in cold frames—a vital source of vitamin C not overlooked in colonial times.The handsomest form to my mind is the radis ronf violet à bout blanc, which is identical except that it is white on the root end.Even though Thomas Mawe mentioned the radish in Every Man His Own Gardener (1779, 483), it seems to be a hardy variety that dates back to the seventeenth century.Raphanus sativus There are several heirloom yellow summer radishes, but the basic division falls into two categories: long or carrot-shaped and round.Alzbeta Kovacova-Pecarova (Betty to me), a seed saver in Kosice, Slovakia, has graciously shared with me some of the oldest yellow radish varieties presently in my vegetable collection, including jaune hatif, as it is known in France.The Abbé Rozier (1785, 534) noted that this round yellow radish was one of the most commonly raised varieties in Dauphin, Savoy, and in the vicinity of Lyon.This natural deficiency is counterbalanced by a greater resistance to heat, allowing the yellow sorts to be planted late in the spring and enjoyed through the early summer — the reason for the hatif in the French name.The round yellow variety was well known in this country as early as 1800, and it seems to have been a consistently listed type throughout the nineteenth century, not just for its ability to withstand our sultry summers but also because its color was quite striking at table, especially when mixed with white, red, violet, and even black sorts.During the latter part of the nineteenth century, a golden yellow radish became popular due to its more delicate flavor and finer texture.It was introduced into the United States from England in 1859 by one Isaac Buchanan, but the circumstances surrounding its introduction have not yet come to light.Through years of careful selection, the mild-flavored pods remain crisp and tender for a long time — as much as two weeks — rather than turning tough and woody within a few days as they do for most other radishes.Out of this French variety, David Landreth & Sons of Philadelphia created the Earliest White Forcing Radish, which the firm introduced in the early 1880s.This strain came to be known as the Philadelphia White Box Radish among market gardeners, and this name began appearing as such in the seed catalogs of William Henry Maule during the 1890s.Perhaps the ultimate compliment to this radish came in 1909, when it was featured in the frontispiece to volume 4 of L. H. Bailey’s Cyclopedia of American Horticulture, the book that eventually became Hortus Third.This radish was introduced commercially in this country in 1866–67 primarily by James J.

H. Gregory of Marblehead, Massachusetts, although there were several other American seedsmen who carried it.Botanists have consistently classified it as Raphanus caudatus, thus inferring that it is a species separate from the common table radish.The Don Juan of radishes is also crack for butterflies, which flock around the plants in the heat of summer like bees on honey.I thoroughly enjoy growing this radish for the show alone, but since it is a great attractor of pollinators during the height of summer when many flowers go temporarily dormant, it is a very useful addition to the vegetable garden.The curious feature of this radish is that the flowers quickly develop into long, twining purple seed pods that do indeed resemble rat tails.In temperate areas of the country, it is possible to grow three crops in one season, or even more if seed is planted in two-week intervals from early spring through September.Raphanus sativus Radishes of this much-sought-after shape are difficult enough to grow in heavy soil, not to mention that most of them are no better tasting than the small, round sorts.I happen to like the miniatures — the Tom Thumb lettuce, the gloire de Quimper pea, the Pink Pearl tomato — I guess because they are not threatening, or else because I am intrigued by their Lilliputian scale.Due to its small size, the radish makes an excellent addition to dainty sandwiches, one of the purposes of its development.This is a radish that moves from perfection to flowers within a matter of days; it requires intense fussing and a commitment to cold frames.In order to achieve the perfect shape, the soil in which the radish is cultivated must be deeply dug and thoroughly sifted with coarse sand.But hundreds can be grown in a small amount of space, and with experience, this is a vegetable that will heed the command of the gardener and produce very respectable yields.

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'Pink Beauty' Heirloom Radishes

Pretty and tasty heirloom with bright magenta-pink roots and pure white crispy flesh that makes them a treat to eat.Pretty and tasty heirloom with bright magenta-pink roots and pure white crispy flesh that makes them a treat to eat.Protect radishes with floating row covers if marauding birds or flea beetles that chew holes in the leaves are a problem.Make delicious open faced sandwiches on whole grain bread spread with sweet butter and topped with sliced radishes. .

Heirloom Radish Seeds

Beautiful colors of crimson, pink, white, variegated, and even black radishes await your diverse and unique garden. .

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