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Fall Radishes

Gardeners eager to get their first seeds in the ground in spring often sow a quick crop of radishes, which grow quickly and can be harvested in a matter of weeks. Radishes are a terrific fall crop, too — they’re traditional fare for Octoberfest.

Radishes are grown mainly for their roots, which are most often round but can be as long as a carrot or as fat as a beet. Japanese radishes, often called Daikon radishes, have white roots up to 14 inches long. Grocery stores seldom venture beyond round red radishes and stick-straight Daikons, but there is lots of variety in the radish family: ‘Black Spanish’ radish, an heirloom variety, has dark skin and snow-white flesh; ‘Watermelon’ has round, white roots and a burst of crimson inside. ‘Salad Rose’ is a deep pink radish about the size and shape of a small carrot and great for fall gardens: it is known as a beer radish.

In German beer gardens, long radishes are sliced with a special tool (cooking shops sell them) that makes radish spirals, which are served as a snack with pretzels or as a garnish on a plate with roasted meats. For a snack to go with a frosty mug of beer, you might be served a radish salad or a few bright red round radishes, sliced and sprinkled with cracked pepper and chives.

Octoberfest actually starts in September and lasts for a couple of weeks. If you’re holding your own fest, radishes are accommodating: they keep well in a crisper. They’re delicious no matter how you serve them: crisp and peppery in a salad, sliced thin on a sandwich, or roasted, stir-fried, pickled, or preserved.

All radishes produce abundant greens, which can be sauteed or tossed in salads. They are especially tasty when they’re young. Like radishes themselves, leafy radish tops are often spicy, a bit like mustard greens. Serve with a little polka music on the side.

Read the next Article: Rooftop Gardening

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Gardening Tip of the Day

  • The next time you change the aquarium water be sure to save the old water for the garden. Although not as potent as fish emulsion, aquarium water is certainly a worthwhile soil amendment and can be used to water and feed outdoor plants. (The aroma may not be welcome indoors if the water is used on houseplants.) If your compost pile needs a jolt, pour the enriched water over the pile for a quick dose of natural fertilizer.