Until last year, I never believed that you could put plants out before the frost in our area, even though I had read that people do it all over the place I just thought that our spring might be too harsh. This kept me from planting anything outdoors too early in the season, which lead to me waiting and likely missing out on an extra crop of early, quick growing plants like radishes.
I will admit, with the weather that we have been having as of late, with the snow and cold temperatures, I didn’t think I would be planting early this year either even though I wanted to. They are predicting snow again on the weekend, but the temperatures will be mild compared to what they have been with lows only being around freezing. While these aren’t ideal conditions, especially for germinating seeds, I did remember something that should get me an extra crop of early radishes.
Though I’ve yet to build my new greenhouse due mostly to the weather and the fact that during most days I don’t have my truck to drive to get materials, I do have a tiny plastic greenhouse tent. I used it last season to help my pumpkins, corn, and cucumbers to get extra light and sun that wasn’t being provided in the house due to the needs of the other seedlings we had taking up all of the window space.
It worked great for the most part, the pumpkins, corn, and grass underneath it took off like gangbusters, but the cucumbers dried out a few times, and suffered all season due to my neglect. I think the results for the radishes will be equally good, even though we are still a month (perhaps more) out from out last frost date.
Once the radishes were planted, I put the mini greenhouse tent over top of them and added two four litre jugs of water to the inside. These will act as heat sinks, heating up through the day, and slowly releasing that heat overnight to keep the plants warm, and if it gets too cold, they can be taken out and filled with warm water so that they can do their job on days that it doesn’t warm up.
I then added a thermometer to the tent; when I put it inside it was reading 10 Celsius (about 50 Fahrenheit), after a few minutes of clean up, and the taking of a picture, it was reading 15 C (59 f). An hour later when I checked, it was up to about 18 C (almost 65 f). Not bad for a day that has been mostly cloudy with a cool wind blowing.
I am still not 100% sure I will get good sized radishes out of my little experiment, not because I don’t think that they will germinate and grow, I’m fairly confident that they will. The problem is that they are planted in the area where my butternut squash will be planted once the frost date is passed so I am not sure if they will have the heat units they need to mature before then.
This won’t turn out to be a problem however, as I never chose to plant red radish simply for how fast it grows, or how well it grows in the cool spring weather, but partly because I recently read that you can eat the radish greens. The flavour is supposed to be akin to that of spinach but slightly more bitter according to an article I read, and I wanted to try them for myself.
The article also mention that most of the nutrition in a radish comes from the leaves, which are apparently high in Calcium and Vitamin C. The Vitamin C content for the leaves is up around six times the amount in the radishes themselves. I am going to have to find some radish greens recipes, but I am excited to try them.
You can find the whole article I mentioned here, it has an interesting recipe for radish greens and links to more reading on the subject if you are looking for more information.
If you end up trying out any recipes that you have found for radish greens, or have eaten them before, leave a comment about your experiences and keep coming back for updates on how my little red radish patch turns out.